My Kick-off to National Moth Week

Hey everyone!  Haven’t been able to spend much time on my computer at home for a long time, but I’ve been dying to share several things with you all.  The next few posts will feature my favorite insect-themed celebration of the year, National Moth Week. I LOVE Moth Week! I’ve hosted a big moth-themed open house at the museum field station where I work every year since National Moth Week started and then I go out every night that week and blacklight at home.  For my public event, I bring my blacklights, bait, and my brand new mercury vapor light (so, so happy to have it!) to attract moths.  Usually, there’s some freak storm the day of my public event that sends everyone running for cover, but we lucked out and got no rain at all this year.  About 55 people came, and they were a marvelous group!  It was a punishingly hot day and it stayed hot well into the evening, but those 55 people were enthusiastic and very excited about getting to see moths and other nighttime insects. No complaints at all. So. Much. Fun!!

I usually bring my Nikon DSLR camera with me to my public moth event and start taking pictures when things calm down after most of the visitors have left for the evening.  We never get many big moths, so this year I brought my Canon with my super close up MP-E 65 lens so I could get good photos of the smaller moths. I pulled it out about 10:30pm, got my flashes set up and the diffusers in place, strapped my headlamp onto my head, and was about to get started photographing our far-better-than-average moth haul for the evening when I realized my battery was dead – and my spare AND my charger were plugged into the wall at home.  Doh!  I ended up taking all my photos with my headlamp and phone this year.  However, given the large size of several of the moths that showed up, my camera choice was a mistake anyway.

I’ve shared my current blacklighting rig before, so I won’t go over it again here.  I set up four blacklights:

blacklight rig at night

One on each side of the building.  I kept things easy and just thumbtacked the sheets to two of the wooden walls of the building, and set a couple more up on the PVC frames I normally use.

The mercury vapor light is a new acquisition.  I’ve been dying to have one for years and was so very excited to actually get one.  I normally do my moth night with one of my coworkers, and we’ve used his mercury vapor lights in the past.  He wasn’t going to be at this year’s event though, so I just bought my own light.  It’s very bright and very hot:

mercury vapor light

I have had the very fortunate experience of blacklighting in southern Arizona during the monsoon, where this sheet would be absolutely packed with insects, including many very large moths.  However, this is a really good haul for this particular location, probably the most moths I’ve ever gotten on a sheet during National Moth Week.

The lights attracted a wide range of moths.  Some of them are very common at the field station, like this common tan wave:

common tan wave

and this Ailanthus webworm:

ailanthus webworm

These are both very common moths in my area, ones you would expect to see at any blacklight, or even a porchlight, on almost any summer night.  A few of the moths we saw certainly aren’t rare, but we don’t see nearly as many of them.   This rosy maple moth is one of my favorites (I call it the rainbow sherbet moth):

rosy maple moth

And we get these esther moths most years:

esther moth

Beautiful wood nymphs are not super common at my lights, but I’ve seen them at this event more than once:

beautiful wood nymph

Some much less common moths also decided to show up this year, like this Hebrew:

hebrew

This is the second time I’ve seen Hebrews at this event.  I just love them!

I gave a little talk about moths during the event that included photos of some moths we’ve seen in past years.  Conveniently, all the moths above were included, so it was a lot of fun listening to people exclaim over moths they recognized from the presentation!  People saying, “Ooh, look!  It’s an elegant grass veneer!” or “Oh, oh! It’s a rainbow sherbet moth.  What was the real name, rosy maple moth?”  I felt like people were walking away from the event knowing a few moth species they might not have known before because they saw them on a big screen and then immediately saw them in real life at the lights.  Very nice to be able to provide the moths I shared in the presentation on command!

We did see some new-to-the-event moths this year too!  There were several Virginia creeper sphinx moths:

virginia creeper sphinx

Everyone was really excited to see these!  They should be at the lights every year as their host plant is all over the place all around the building where I set up the lights, but for whatever reason they never appear.  We got 6 this time.  Another first was this tiger moth:

tiger moth

Very white, and high up on the wall so I never got a good look at it to get a good ID.  We got some new small moths, like this unidentified moth (I think it’s one of the leafrollers):

Archips leafroller

Might be an oblique banded leafroller?  I’m still learning my moths, and these little ones are definitely not easy.

And finally, my favorite moth of the night, a small-eyed sphinx moth:

small eyed sphinx

Everyone had left and I was just getting ready to take down my lights when this moth showed up.  I was thrilled!  Such a gorgeous moth.  Shiny, velvety, perfect.  I really regretted not bringing my Nikon DSLR so I could get better photos of this stunner.  The whole night was great, but this moth made the oppressive heat and having to take all my gear back down alone after midnight absolutely worth it.

This particular event takes a lot of setup and takedown on my part, but I absolutely love it!  Every year I get good people who are excited to learn about moths and other nighttime insects and every year I leave work around 1AM sweaty and exhausted and completely happy.  What’s better than hanging out at a light looking at bugs with interested people all night?

I’m going to post a few more posts about National Moth Week soon, so be on the lookout for those!  One will feature the moths I found in my yard that week and the other will be about the other insects I found while looking for moths.  Hope you’ll enjoy them!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth.

Swarm Sunday: 9/27/15 – 12/20/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logoThanks to work, I haven’t had much time to blog recently, but I wanted to get the remaining swarms reported from 2015 up before the end of the year.  Swarms were reported from the following locations since early October, the normal end of the season:

USA:

Santa Monica, CA
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Holmes Beach, FL
Indian Shores, FL
Lakeland, FL
Miami, FL
Naples, FL
Panama City Beach, FL
Pompano Beach, FL
Santa Rosa Beach, FL (2 swarms)
Sarasota, FL (2 swarms)
Sunrise, FL
Wichita, KS
Somerset, KY
Vineland, NJ
Austin, TX
Gilchrist, TX

India:

Bangalore (2 swarms)

Mexico:

Cancun

Belize:

Dangriga

Here is the US map for the fall flights:

10.4.15 to 12.19.15

 

Click the map to enlarge!

 

The end of the swarm season was interesting this year!  It lasted quite a lot longer into October than usual and a couple American swarms were reported in November.  The past 5 years, a very few swarm reports have been submitted the first two weeks in October, so the late swarms this year were a good 2-6 weeks later than normal.  The season started a few weeks late this year, too, and it stayed warm a lot longer into the fall in the east than typical, so there was a lot potentially coming into play here.  What’s really odd about this map is that there are three swarms reported from areas fairly far north much later in the season than I would expect them.  Most of the swarms should be much further south by early October, so it’s very strange to see a swarm as far north as New Jersey that late in the year.

There have been a few winter reports made from closer to the equator, from Belize and southern Mexico.  These are normal, but it’s always exciting to see activity further south.  Are the dragonflies they’re seeing the same dragonflies we saw in the fall?  It’s impossible to tell with the way I collect data, but it’s fun to think that they might be.

I totally dropped the ball reporting the annual findings last year, but I’m almost ready to post the findings from 2015.  Look for the first post next weekend most likely!  It’s been an interesting year.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Dragonfly Swarm Project in 2015!  I’ve got some exciting new opportunities coming up next year that I’ll share soon and I’m looking forward to the next season.  In the meantime, if you see any swarms, I hope you’ll report them!  This is a slow time of year, but I get a lot of very interesting reports from many sites across the world in the winter.  I’ll gladly take reports!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Tagging Monarchs (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

Hey everyone!!  I know I’ve been offline for ages, but things are finally slowing down at work enough that I can get back into blogging at least semi-regularly.  It’s been so long since I last posted that I have a massive backlog of photos.  It was hard to choose just one today!  But here’s what I decided to share:

Monarch with tag

Monarch with tag

We tag monarchs for Monarch Watch at work and this was the last one we tagged this year.  I got many people involved in the tagging this year and we had a fun couple of months chasing monarchs around the grounds with nets.  However,  this is serious work too as the tags we put on the wings give monarch researchers an amazing ability to track individual monarchs during their migration and see how many actually make it to Mexico.  I won’t be able to look him up for a while and see how far he got (there’s unfortunately a big lag between when you submit data and when you can see the data for your butterflies on the website), but I hope little UMT 654 makes it to the Mexican mountains!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 9/27/15 – 10/3/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

The swarming season is definitely slowing down, though there were two areas this week that saw a fair bit of activity.  Swarms were reported from the following locations in the last week:

USA:

Miami Beach, FL
Miami Shores, FL
Pompano Beach, FL

Yorktown, IN
Omaha, NE (8 swarms)

Here is the US map for last week:

9.27.15 to 10.3.15

 

Click the map to enlarge!

There’s been a big event in Omaha and/or Lincoln, Nebraska each year since I started this project and it took place last week.  A big migration moved through the Omaha area and several people reported it.  There were also a handful of swarms reported from southern Florida (and there have been others reported since then too), so it looks like some of our eastern dragonflies might be headed across the ocean to Central or South America soon!

I’ll post again next week since I’ve already gotten some reports this week, but the season is definitely winding down.  Here’s hoping we’ll see one more big burst in activity before the dragonflies disappear for the year!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday (on Monday): 9/20/15 – 9/26/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Thanks to attending a conference with very limited internet connection this weekend, this is a day late.  However, we’re transitioning into fall, so the swarm activity is way down this week – not a lot to report anyway!  Swarms were reported from the following locations in the last week:

USA:

Phoenix, AZ
Panama City Beach, FL
Port St. Joe, FL
Sarasota, FL
St. Petersburg, FL
Blackshear, GA
Council Grove, KS
Kansas City, KS
Ludington, MI
Kansas City, MO
Fort Worth, TX

Here is the US map for last week:

 

9.20.15 to 9.26.15

Click the map to enlarge!

A bit of an odd arrangement of reports this week!  A few in the south, where I’d expect them to be, but there is still a small amount of activity in the upper and central Midwest.  Odd!  Still no migration in the western US this year, which seems to fit well with the limited migratory reports in the east overall.  With some definite exceptions, cities that had huge migratory events, there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement reported this year.  Very interesting.

I suspect the season is almost over and that I’ll only get a few reports this week.  Hope you’ll take a moment to submit a report if you see a swarm!  Anything this late in the year is exciting.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 9/13/15 – 9/19/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Well, things have definitely slowed down!  After a big, bright burst of swarming activity over the last three weeks, we’re suddenly headed into fall.  Swarms were reported in the following locations over the last week:

USA:

Marco Island, FL
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Hamburg, IA
Hillsboro, IL
Parkton, MD
Silver Spring, MD
North Topsail, NC (2 swarms)
Oak Island, NC
Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Surf City, NC (2 swarms)
Topsail Beach, NC
Alpine, NJ
Cherry Hill, NJ
Somerdale, NJ
College Point, NY
New York, NY
Mustang, OK
Hawley, PA
Lehighton, PA
West Chester, PA

Here is the US map for last week:

9.13.15 to 9.19.15

 

 

 

Click the map to enlarge!

 

Still not a lot of migratory action being reported, but last week there was a significant migratory movement in my own state of North Carolina.  I heard about this migration through my project, via e mails, and some people even came to tell me all about it after a talk I gave on dragonflies at the museum where I work yesterday.  Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet week!  Little bit of activity along coastal New England, but very little inland.

I’ve gotten over 700 swarm reports so far this year!  Hoping I’ll end up with 800+, which would make this a pretty good year for swarming dragonflies overall.  Keep sending in reports as you see swarms!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

_______________

Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday (on Monday): 8/30/15 – 9/12/15

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

Reporting on two weeks of data once again, but there’s been a lot going on recently! Swarms were reported from the following locations over the last two weeks:

USA:

El Cajon, CA
Foresthill, CA
Studio City, CA
Ventura, CA
Branford, CT
Clinton, CT
East Haven, CT
Middletown, CT
Redding, CT
Daytona Beach, FL
Britt, IA
Council Bluffs, IA (2 swarms)
Davenport, IA
Dubuque, IA
Grinnell, IA
Osceola, IA
Oskaloosa, IA
Sergeant Bluff, IA
Sioux City, IA
Traer, IA
Waukee, IA
Arlington Heights, IL
Beardstown, IL
Beecher IL
Bensenville, IL
Bloomington, IL
Crestwood, IL (2 swarms)
Dawson, IL
Dekalb, IL
Downs, IL
Geneva, IL
Germantown Hills, IL
Gurnee, IL
Homewood, IL (2 swarms)
Jacksonville, IL
Lawrenceville, IL
Liberty, IL
Mackinaw, IL
Midlothian, IL
Monmouth, IL
Oak Forest, IL
Oak Park, IL
Oakwood, IL
Philo, IL
Silvis, IL
St. Joseph, IL (3 swarms)
Sterling, IL
Sycamore, IL
Tinley Park, IL (2 swarms)
Urbana, IL (2 swarms)
Western Springs, IL
Wilmette, IL
Arcadia, IN
Centerville, IN
Cowan, IN
Fowlerton, IN (2 swarms)
Frankfort, IN
Laporte, IN
Lebanon, IN
Milton, IN
Rushville, IN
South Bend, IN
Terre Haute, IN
Tipton, IN
Vevay, IN
Atchison, KS
Bonner Springs, KS
Burrton, KS
Girard, KS
Goddard, KS
Newton, KS
Overland Park, KS
Ashland, KY (2 swarms)
Brooksville, KY
London, KY
Shelbyville, KY
Amesbury, MA
Dighton, MA
Huntington, MA
Ipswich, MA (2 swarms)
Newbury, MA
Newburyport, MA
Clarksburg, MD
Baroda, MI
Dowling, MI
East Tawas, MI
Lasalle , MI
Roseville, MI
Apple Valley, MN
Butterfield, MN
Dennison, MN (2 swarms)
Lakeville, MI
Blue Springs, MO
Cameron, MO
Clinton, MO
Edina, MO
Holt, MO
Kansas City, MO (3 swarms)
Kirksville, MO
Lee’s Summit, MO
Memphis, MO
Odessa, MO
Platte City, MO
Plattsburg, MO
Richland, MO
Richmond, MO
Troy, MO
Warrensburg, MO
Asheville, NC
Bismarck, ND
Eagle, NE
Firth, NE
Omaha, NE
Exeter, NH
Hampton, NH
Kensington, NH (3 swarms)
Moultonborough, NH
South Hampton, NH
Alloway Township, NJ
Livingston , NJ
Long Valley, NJ
Paramus, NJ
Ringoes, NJ
Somerset, NJ
Trenton, NJ
West Caldwell, NJ
Woolwich Township, NJ
Bayside, NY
Cleveland, NY
Cutchogue, NY
Greenburgh, NY
Lacona, NY
Warners, NY
Brookville, OH
Butler, OH
Chauncey, OH
Cincinnati, OH (3 swarms)
Columbus, OH (8 swarms)
Convoy, OH
Covington, OH
Cumberland, OH
Dayton, OH (3 swarms)
Delaware, OH (2 swarms)
Derby, OH
Dublin, OH (4 swarms)
Dunkirk, OH
Enon, OH
Fostoria, OH
Frankfort, OH
Galloway, OH (2 swarms)
Hartford, OH
Lancaster, OH
Lewis Center, OH (2 swarms)
Lynchburg, OH
Madeira, OH
Mount Victory, OH
New Holland, OH
New Madison, OH
New Richmond, OH
Plain City, OH
Sylvania, OH
Tontogany, OH
Upper Sandusky, OH
Utica, OH
Wilmington, OH
Milford. OH
Allentown, PA
Avondale, PA
Huntingdon Valley, PA
Knoxville, PA
Macungie, PA
Willisport, PA
Simpsonville. SC
Chattanooga, TN
Mountain City, TN
Georgetown, TX
Port Allen, TX
Batesville, VA
Big Stone Gap, VA
Fairfax, VA
Lebanon, VA
Bellows Falls, VT
Granton, WI
Madison, WI
Milwaukee, WI
Monroe, WI
Huntington, WV

Canada:

Burlington, ON
Oakville, ON
St. George, ON
Toronto, ON (2 swarms)

And here are the US maps for the last two weeks:

8.30.15 to 9.5.15

9.6.15 to 9.12.15

Click the maps to enlarge!

We’re still a little light on migratory swarm reports this year, but the dragonflies do at least appear to be shifting southward finally.  Last week, the swarms went from being quite abundant in the Great Lakes region and upper New England to the upper midwest, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  There have been very few reports from the southern states at all this year, but people in the Mid-Atlantic state, the Deep South, Arkansas, and Texas are likely to start seeing a lot more dragonflies over the next week to two weeks as the dragonflies from the northern part of the country start making their way further south.

Still no western migration!  Could start any day.  I’ve been keeping a close eye on all of the northwestern dragonfly listservs and online groups in addition to what’s reported here and there’s so far nothing to report from that area.

Given the big number of reports over the last two weeks, I think the season has peaked and we’re headed into the fall slump this week or next week.  Still, keep an eye out for swarms!  You never know when and where you might see one, and I hope you’ll report any you see.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

_______________

Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

_______________

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth