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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 http://nationalmothweek.org/

[2] Hayward, E. (2018, January 20). Jurassic moths. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/bcnews/science-tech-and-health/earth-environment-and-sustainability/bc-scientists-find-prehistoric-butterflies-preceded-flowers.html

[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 https://www.sciencefriday.com/educational-resources/observe-moths/

[5] Invasive Species. (2019, October 10). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/isro/learn/nature/invasive-species-gypsy-moth.htm

[6] http://www.mothscount.org/uploads/How_to_start%20_mothing.pdf