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Moth Watching

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Date:  September 9, 2021
Agent:  Donna Teasley

Hello, this is Donna Teasley, Horticulture Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center.

What season is it? We think it is late summer but it is also moth season. Moths are the close relative of butterflies but they are usually ignored. Why? Because they are most active at night, unlike butterflies who flit about the garden on bright sunny days. But, moths come in a dazzling array of colors and some are quite huge with wing spans of 6 inches.

Adult moths are hatching right now and they only live for a couple of weeks. They don’t eat during this time although their caterpillars are voracious eaters of mostly leaves.

Take a white sheet and hang it on the side of a building at night. Hook a clamp on lamp with a black light bulb in it, pull up a lawn chair and get ready to see amazing things. Many moths are attracted to light and they will fly to the sheet and settle in for your viewing pleasure. There are 11,000 species of moths in the world and we have some spectacular examples right here in Burke County. We’ve all seen the luna moth with its mint green color but the polyphemous moth is just as glorious with its giant wings unfurled to expose large eye-like patterns which are used to frighten predators. The rosy maple moth, hawk moth and many more are waiting to put on a show for late night viewing. Give it a try.

This is Donna Teasley with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center. If you would like more information about this program you can call us at 764-9480.