Celebrating Moths!

The 10th annual National Moth Week is July 17–25, 2021, and Florida Native Plant Society is celebrating these typically nocturnal creatures by showcasing several moth species that have life-cycle relationships with Florida’s amazing native plants.

We’ll kick it off tomorrow with a post about one of the smaller, more discreet (yet colorful) moths, the tiny Black-dotted Spragueia Moth (Spragueia onagrus).

Insects are a huge part of an enormous web of life that we are only just beginning to understand. With more than 12,000 moth species calling North America home, according to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, moths certainly play a role within every habitat. Their relationships with plants are essential to a healthy ecosystem, as they find food and shelter within plants – and pay it forward by pollinating them.

Like butterflies, moths are members of the order Lepidoptera. Their life cycles are similar, too, beginning as eggs laid on leaves and other organic matter, hatching into hungry caterpillars and then metamorphizing into fluttering adults.

Author Laura Bennett-Kimble used this Golden Guide as a kid to ID the butterflies and moths she found in her neighborhood.

Adult moths usually aren’t as interested in food as the younger set, and some species actually do not eat at all in this often-short phase of their lives. However, other species, like the Coffee-Loving Pyrausta (Pyrausta tyralis) and Pluto Sphinx (Xylophanes pluto) moths, do seek out nectar and serve as pollinators for our native plants.

If you’d like to get involved with National Moth Week, various events are being organized. Online registration is available for group and individual activities, so if you want to track what you find in your own neighborhood or participate with others, check out the program. This year, organizers are focusing on getting kids involved, and you can even download a free coloring book from the website.

You can also participate in a citizen science project through iNaturalist. This project provides a place to share your photos and contribute to the body of knowledge about moths found around the globe. So far, more than 6,100 moth species have been identified in the project.

And, one last thing – If you’re interested in learning more about Florida’s diverse moth species, be sure to check out our previous blog posts from 2019’s National Moth Week.

National Moth Week is a project of the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (Friends of EBEC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and has been held annually since 2012.

By Laura Bennett-Kimble, Florida Native Plant Society member-at-large and Certified Florida Master Naturalist


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