Week of July 16, 2023 – July 22, 2023

staff member Anna Stunkel Environmental Educator

by Anna Stunkel, Environmental Educator

One of my favorite nature happenings of summer can only be observed under cover of darkness, and is best seen very late in the middle of the night. On a warm and dark summer night, if you hang a white bedsheet vertically and illuminate it with a blacklight, a beautiful diversity of moths and other nocturnal insects is likely to arrive. Here at Baltimore Woods, we call this night buggin.’

Our staff recently set up a sheet with a blacklight and it was visited by a cast of winged, feathery-antennaed characters. Several Green Leuconycta Moths were some of my favorites, with lichen-like minty green patterns on their wings.

I also spent some time night buggin’ in the White Mountains of New Hampshire this summer. Giant silk moths such as Polyphemus, Luna, and Cecropia Moths were abundant, and I marveled at their densely feathered antennae. These antennae help the moths to detect predators, sometimes food, and mates. Males often have more elaborate, larger antennae so that they can detect females’ pheromones.

While the huge moths are certainly charismatic, smaller moths like sphinxes, prominents, underwings, and the tiny micromoths are also amazing. The Small-eyed Sphinx shown here has almost purplish, bark-like mottling flecked with gold, while the Lettered Habrosyne is embellished with intricate zigzags.

As the summer continues, moths will keep fluttering through the night. We hope you have a chance to enjoy them visiting your porchlight or an illuminated sheet that you set up!