National Moth Week

National Moth Week

This year July 18 through the 26th is National Moth Week! [1]

What started in 2012 amongst members of the “Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission” as moth nights, has grown into a national week celebrating the education and conservation of moths throughout the United States. 

As the education and conservation of moths continue to grow, so do the number of participating states and countries throughout the world. Currently the event is registered in all 50 United States and 80 other countries.

Why Are Moths Important?

Moths are estimated to have been in existence for around 50 -70 million years [2]. This timeline makes the moth one of the oldest and most successful organisms on planet Earth.

Besides being well established in our biosphere, moths are also recognized as bioindicators. Their abundance and vitality directly correlates to the health and well being of plants and in turn animals in their surroundings. 

This point of contention has behaved as a driving force behind many insect conservation efforts for the better part of two to three decades[3].

In addition to being a strong indicator of a healthy environment, moths are also pollinators and just as important as the bees and butterflies that we glorify during pollinator’s week.

Where Can You Find Moths?

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The focus of the National Moth Week is to recognize and promote beneficial moths in your local ecosystem. There are a number of activities all week long through your local extension office, Audubon society, and moth communities. [4] 

To construct your own mothing experience, follow these few steps and enjoy an event in your own backyard!

  • First, hang up a sheet
  • Second, find a light source
  • Third, place the light source close by/behind your sheet to attract the moths, and give them a place to land
  • Finally, sit back and wait for the moths!

While there are a number of moths that can be viewed at night. There is also a significant amount to be found during the day. Until recently it was commonly believed that moths were unlike butterflies and only flew at night to avoid different predators. But, scientists in recent years have found that as few as 50 species of moths have changed their activity patterns to daytime.

Moths are everywhere, you just have to know where to look! During daytime hours, moths can be found in their preferred habitats of gardens with beautiful flowers, and anywhere that has them. The beauty and complex artistry of moth wings can often be mistaken for a butterfly.

Next time you’re out in the day, take a closer look and see if your favorite butterfly is perhaps a moth instead! [6]

Other ways to attract moths include using ripened fruit, sugaring (rubbing molasses on a small section of bark), and wine ropes (rope cooked down in a pan with red wine and sugar). Identifying moths during moth week is half the fun.

There are a number of ways for you to become a moth expert, you just have to get started!

The “Other” Moths

Gypsy Moth

We’ve spent the majority of this article explaining the importance of this week and the benefits of moths, but we wouldn’t be doing our part if we didn’t also mention the…”other” moths.

Here at Plant Sentry™ we know better than anyone, that while there can be a number of good pests out there, it only takes one bad one to wipe out an entire collection of plants. So while we’ve highlighted so many great things about moths in this article, we wouldn’t be following our ethics if we didn’t also warn you about the bad ones.

Almost all of the moth species that exist are beneficial, but just like that one guy in the fast lane slowing everyone down, there’s also that one moth species who isn’t doing any good in North America. 

Introducing the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)! 

If you haven’t heard about them before, then we’re really glad you decided to stop by. The Gypsy Moth is an invasive moth species to the North American region. It is classified as one of the most challenging pests to control and eradicate because of the number of plants that it can infiltrate, as well as their discrete biological way of spreading. 

The threat that this pest most prominently proposes is the defoliation that it causes to its plant hosts. Most commonly they can be found in Oak trees, Sweet Gum, Willow, Birch, Apple, Boxelder, as well as many more. 

They often leave their hosts in such a state that they become more susceptible to diseases and mortality. Additionally, the damage caused to the trees can increase the potential of wildfires due to the lack of moisture from the leaves.

Controlling the pest has been an ongoing challenge for growers since 1869 when the moth first arrived in Boston [5]. The Gypsy Moth can travel as a larvae to new locations through what is known as “ballooning.” This is when the larvae produces a silk thread and it is carried by a strong enough wind that the insect is able to travel without flight. This spread facilitation in addition to the unintentional transfer by human goods allows the population of this pest to increase continually. 

While there are different kinds of traps that can attract the pest, there is always the risk of increasing the population this way and making it more difficult in the long run. Additional methods that can be of benefit are chemical or biological solutions that eradicate the pest at the caterpillar stage.

The Plant Sentry™ Effort

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Wax moth larvae

Here at Plant Sentry™ we’re suckers for healthy plants. We genuinely can’t help ourselves!

A healthy plant is so much more than just a beautiful addition to a landscape. To us, a healthy plant signifies a healthy future in a healthy environment. Because of the efforts of thousands of moth species throughout the world, healthy plants are possible.

While there is one bad apple in the bunch, there are still thousands of other moth species that do great things for your plants and our planet. We recognize that providing diligent and valuable information is the backbone of success against invasive species and protecting species that are good for our local ecosystems.

Day in and day out we work hard at Plant Sentry™ to stay on top of the latest regulations so that when it comes to your plant’s health, we have the right answers for you. We understand that pests make their way in shipments, despite our best efforts. We’ve designed our services to understand nature and provide the best guidance to protect your healthy plants.

If you’re ready to take the next steps to protect your plants and business visit our Contact Us page to get started!

[1]National Moth Week. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from

[2] Hayward, E. (2018, January 20). Jurassic moths. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from

[3] Stewart, A. J., New, T. R., & Lewis, O. T. (2007). Insect conservation biology: Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society’s 23rd symposium. Cambridge, MA, MA: CABI.

[4] Zych, A. (2016, July 28). Go Mothing! Retrieved July 21, 2020, from

[5] Invasive Species. (2019, October 10). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from



Here’s A Flight You’ll Want to Miss

Here’s A Flight You’ll Want to Miss

For growers around the world, there are certain seasons that can be more stressful than others. In the U.S. the challenges of the seasons are no different. With the ever evolving globalized market of the world, the challenge of keeping unwanted pests out seems to get harder every single year. 

This challenge is especially difficult during their mating seasons when many pests reproduce and establish their damages for years to come. One pest in the United States is regarded with high priority for eradication and control methods. 

Every year between June 1st until September 30th growers around the U.S. work tirelessly to seek an end to the damage from the Japanese Beetle. This time of the year is known as the Japanese Beetle Flight Season (Period).

Japanese Beetles- A History

As you could probably guess by the name, the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)originated in Japan. Many, many years ago in 1916 Japanese Beetles were officially discovered in the United States near Riverton, New Jersey.[1] However, it is believed that the pest made its way over on a shipment of Iris bulbs as early as 1912. [2]

Fast forward to the current year of 2020 and most states East of the Mississippi River have been infested by the Japanese Beetle. While partial infestations do exist West of the Mississippi, states on that side of the U.S. have taken strict precautions to protect themselves against the spread of the invasive pest. [1]

What’s the Big Deal With the Small Size?

While the establishment of Japanese Beetles is fairly well known at this point in time, many of you may still be asking “Why are these pests such a big deal?”

Japanese beetles can prove difficult to remove once they’ve established themselves at a location. 

During their flight season, the beetle digs a hole in the soil and lays their eggs. The growing beetles, or grubs, will then spend the next 10 months in the soil before emerging. During their time in the soil the grubs devour roots and seedlings of good quality turf and vegetables. While the grubs prefer good quality turf and vegetables areas, they can survive in almost any soil conditions. 

While the grubs wreak havoc below ground, above the surface the Japanese beetle can do just as much damage. As can be seen above, the Japanese beetle will eat out the green tissue between the leaf veins of a plant for feeding. This is consistent with their feeding pattern and not particular to one type of plant. While the plant may recover from the damage to their energy panels, or leaves as you may call them, the damage leaves the plant more susceptible to damage from other harmful insects and pests.

How Do I Know If I Have Them?

While the beetles are growing and in their grub stage, it can be difficult to know whether or not you have an infestation. But, above the surface things are much more noticeable. 

The Japanese beetle tends to “appear out of nowhere.” One day you may have seen 0 pests, and the next day they may be overwhelmingly apparent! There are a few plants that, depending on region, may act as indicator plants, or plants that are of preference to the Japanese beetle. They can almost certainly be found in rose bushes of any kind, raspberry plants, Linden trees, Maple tree varieties, Fruit tree varieties, Elm tree varieties, Ash tree varieties, Oak tree varieties, grape vines, and many more.

When “planting” their eggs in the soil, the female Japanese beetle follows a fairly specific pattern. She will take flight in the afternoon. She will find moist soil conditions. She will then dig and bury her eggs 2-3 inches in the ground. From there the lifecycle of the Japanese beetle starts all over again. 

But let’s take a step back to the identification of “moist soil conditions.” As I mentioned above, the Japanese beetle grubs prefer quality turf roots for feeding, because of this, the female beetle also looks to identify wet turf conditions for laying her eggs. The wet conditions are ideal and somewhat essential to the larvae stage of the beetle. It isn’t until the grubs are older that they are more drought tolerant, and before then it is pertinent to their survival. [4]

With all of the factors of preference for larvae livelihood considered, there are some key indicators that can help determine if an infestation is possible, or already exists. Moist irrigated turf areas are an ideal habitat for the grubs. When large portions of the turf die during times of hot and dry weather it can be a strong indicator that there is a larvae infestation. 

Treatment Options for Japanese Beetle

The Japanese Beetle once fully grown only lives for about 30-45 days at a time. So, when treating for the pest, targeting the larvae stage is just as important as eradicating the adult stage.

With a feeding habit that includes over 300 different plant species, the treatment options for Japanese Beetles is just as vast as the types of plants they eat!

There are chemical options available using different active ingredients such as Bifenthrin, Chlorpyrifos, Imidacloprid, Methyl Bromide, Lambda-cyhalothrin, Cypermethrin, and many more. Many greenhouses are required by law to use different chemicals in order to ship their plants across state borders during the Flight Period. 

This is seen as perhaps the most effective method against the Japanese beetle and is helpful in mitigation of the larvae stage, as well as the adult stage. However, because the beetles hatch in stages, while you may have sprayed one day for the insect, the insects may continue to emerge over time. 

Other options for treatment include using traps that utilize pheromones to attract the insect, but you can end up with more insects than you started with. There are also pellets that can be applied to grass areas that target the larvae specifically. We personally prefer the slow release pellets that are designed to prevent groundwater contamination. Another option for treatment is to physically pick them off your plants and drop them in a bucket of water as they’re collected.  

Whatever method of treatment you decide is right for your environment, be sure to do your research beforehand as to what is going to be best for your plants and their surroundings. The ultimate goal is to always have the healthiest plants, and too much of one thing can lead to not enough of another.

Plant Sentry™ Involvement

We like to think we’re kind of a big deal, and honestly it’s because we are! When it comes to pest mitigation the Plant Sentry™ experts work year round to stay up-to-date with the latest pest treatments. With involvement of different plant boards around the United States, members of Plant Sentry™ strive to stay up-to-date on the latest treatment methods for the Japanese Beetle. 

With our expertise we’re sure to help you ship the healthiest of plants. To learn more about how you can gain access to this information visit our contact us section!


[1] Japanese Beetle Harmonization Plan. (2018, December 04). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from

[2] (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from

[3] Japanese Beetle Lifecycle Illustration. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2020, from

[4] Japanese Beetles in the Urban Landscape. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2020, from