More than 100 people helped with a citizen science project last week at William B. Umstead State Park, collecting and counting moth species. Over two nights, 116 species were inventoried and added to the park’s database.
One of the highlights of each night was gathering for an introductory talk on moths while a colony of big brown bats departed from their daytime roost directly overhead. Then armed with headlamps and flashlights, children and adults searched for moths, wandering about with an array of light attractants. These included spotlights, UV lights, mercury vapor and halogen lights and even plain white sheets and a “bug zapper” with its electrifying grid disabled.
Along with the netting safaris, there was a moth seminar for adult educators, rangers and other park staff with some of the top moth experts in North Carolina helping out.
Participants came across many familiar species such as luna moths, imperial moths and the rosy maple moth, as well a variety of other insects including hoppers, spiders, spider wasps and “assassin bugs.” The state parks system will soon have some other news on the Lepidoptera front. (That’s the class of insects that includes moths and butterflies.)