National Moth Week is a new project celebrating moths and biodiversity in the US.

July 23-29, 2012National Moth Week logo

Why moths? Moths can be found everywhere from inner cities to heavily forested remote areas.  You might dismiss moths as boring brown fluttery things, but Moth Week is a great time to look more closely.

They can be amazing mimics; they can be as tiny as the head of a pin. They can be huge with surprising underwing patterns, like the moth on the Moth Week Logo.

The purpose of Moth Week is two-fold; to encourage people to go outside and look at the life around them, and also to encourage people to document and submit what they see as part of a larger citizen science project.

You don’t need to know what you are looking at to participate–if you post your images on the Discover Life site (following the protocol), they will identify them for you!

You can find instructions for having a Moth Party at your house on the Discover Life website, too.  I plan to have a Moth Night Celebration at my house in Connecticut; let me know if you are interested!  I live in a perfect area for mothing–streams, a big pond, forest, and agricultural land all near me.  We’ll get lots of interesting insects, including moths.

Join me in being one Bad Moth-er…
(Shut your mouth!)

Some great resources:

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Buggy,

    Thanks for the “Light Trapping” pdf. Might I assume that this method would work equally well for beetles? Would there be ANY point in attempting light trapping during colder months?

  2. Never mind. I read the last sentence in the pdf: “Temperatures generally need to be in the 40s or above”. Is this also true for beetles?

  3. Yeah, it needs to be at least 40 degrees for beetles, I’m afraid. Wait until May!

  4. Beetles are wimps… moths are flying around in much colder temperature. Apparently when it’s cold they are more attracted to bait than to light. Not a scientific statement here, just based on observations of a few serious moth’ers… See their daily reports on the Moth and Moth Watching facebook page.

  5. I’d considered buying a black light trap from BioQuip, or some such place; however, (correct me if I’m wrong) can’t I just go down to Wally World and buy a black light florescent tube and stick it in front of a sheet on my (open) front porch? I’ve already got the fixture.

    Tell me, though, about “Malaise traps”. From what I’ve read, doesn’t sound like they’d be much good for beetles.

  6. Is there any harm to the moths attracted to a light trap, so long as we don’t handle them? I can’t see a problem but I’m not an entomologist. Reading this I had a brainstorm about organizing a Moth Party at a wildlife refuge where I volunteer, but we don’t ever want to harm any creature.

  7. I’ve kinda had a crush on Catocala ( for a while now, so this plays right into my interests. :) Though, I would argue that moth is a generic term for hairy, night flying Lepidoptera, since the “heterocera” taxon is not a monophyletic grouping.

    Also, you can catch insects at 45 degrees F? I’ve never had any luck collecting below 60 degrees, especially if there’s wind. Caddisflies seldom come to blacklights below that temp. Heat, high humidity, no wind, and no moon are the best conditions for night collecting.

    I had a pretty cool setup for some of my master’s work. Not good for moths, but great for trapping aquatic insects. I built a three legged tripod out of pvc pipe and wire, which suspended a tube black light over a white photo pan with ethanol. The light was hooked up to a deep cycle marine battery, which was the heaviest part of the whole apparatus. I could hook it up at dusk and pick it up in the morning for all night collecting.

    @ George: From what I understand, beetles mostly hit malaise and Townes traps and fall to the ground. A better flight intercept trap would be to make a vertical net with a pan of collecting fluid underneath, so when the beetle flies into the net they fall into the trap pan. A graduate student colleague of mine had some success with this method, collecting scarabaeoids associated with turf grass.

  8. Michael–generally, you aren’t harming the moths (and other insects you attract) as long as you turn your light off when you are done.
    You’re just distracting them from whatever they would usually be doing (feeding, hiding, having sex), so as long as you eventually let them get back to it, one night of light trapping won’t hurt much.

  9. Kai,
    Thanks. I’m a rookie to beetling, and have thus far caught the vast majority of mine in homemade traps baited with dung. My wife is STRONGLY suggesting an alternative method. I’m gonna rig up a jury-rigged black light trap on the open front porch, when the weather warms.

  10. Awesome post! I will definitely be taking part in National Moth Week. I actually discovered this in researching for a post on insect photography at – moths are fast becoming one of my favorite subjects. I’d appreciate your perspective on any of the moths featured there!

  11. George – check out the “finding moths” page and “mothing” category on there’s lots of information on how to attract moths.

  12. The new Peterson field guide to moths will be available when National moth week comes along. That is nice.

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