Gather at the River – Moth Night 2023
After an early evening rain shower, the West Branch Rocky River was running a little bit higher than normal, but that didn’t stop the planned event for Friday night – Moth Night on the Westbranch Greenway.
As folks started to gather (more than 30 hardy hikers/moth enthusiasts) at the trail head, up walks a soaked Lenny Lampel from the Mecklenburg Park & Recreation staff to say that everything was all set up for our outing. A Natural Resources Supervisor with the County, Lenny shared the story about how 12 or so years ago he and a small group of like-minded moth lovers started a tally of how many species of moths we had in our area. Turns out, there’s a lot. Like over 1,000. Lenny went on to explain how Moth Night has grown to be a national, even international, event now as scientists discovered how little research had been done on our less known nocturnal flying bugs. He also reminded everyone that you never know what you’re going to find walking in the woods in the dark in late July, so be prepared.
Moths, like their close relatives, the butterflies, are in the insect Order Lepidoptera and are the only group of insects that have scales covering their wings (although there are a few exceptions). There are some 160,000 species of moths in the world, compared to 17,500 species of butterflies. Moths are usually different from butterflies by their antennae, which are typically threadlike or feathery; in contrast, butterflies have club-tipped antennae. Moths play a vital role in food webs and are an important food item for songbirds, mammals, and other insects. Moths also are important pollinators, particularly those that are active after dark, when many other pollinating animals have settled down for the night.
The best part about Moth Night (besides the Moths that is) are all the other critters that you get to see up close and sharing stories with your fellow explorers. One of the kids in the group showed off the Fowlers Toad he caught and named him “bullfrog.” And there was the large Rhinoceros Beetle that was hanging out with all the moths. Mind you, a hot, humid night in late July with insects flying all around may not be for everybody, but for those who ventured out last Friday, it was just what the bug doctor ordered.
About Davidson Lands Conservancy
Davidson Lands Conservancy is a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect natural areas in Davidson through its four conservation pillars: urban forestry, land conservation, greenways and trails, and wildlife habitat.
Since its founding in 2000, the Conservancy has protected more than 500 acres of land in Davidson and helped to establish over miles of walking and biking trails. The Conservancy advances its mission through education and through the four conservation pillars. Visit us here to learn more.