- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's National Moth Week, which, according to the officials, is a time to celebrate "the beauty, life cycle and habitats of moths."
So "moth-ers" of all ages and abilities "are encouraged to learn about, observe and document moths in their backyards, parks and neighborhoods."
We remember, pre-COVID pandemic days, when the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology celebrated National Moth Week with a Moth Night. (See what the entomologists collected at the 2019 Moth Night.) Earlier, Jessica Gillung, a doctoral candidate at UC Davis, posed with Atlas moths from the museum. Time flies--as do the moths.
Jessica went on to receive her doctorate from UC Davis in December 2018, writing her dissertation on “Systematics and Phylogenomics of Spider Flies (Diptera, Acroceridae)," encompassing genomics, phylogenetics, systematics, and comparative analyses. She is now an assistant professor at McGill University, Montreal.
If COVID-19 precautions hadn't temporarily closed the Bohart Museum, entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart's Lepidoptera collection, would be there to talk moths and how they differ from butterflies.
Smith estimates that of the 17,500 described species of butterflies in the world, about 750 of those occur in North America. "However, in North America there's 160,000, easily, species of moths. Moths are far more numerous than butterflies, and in particular, with the little tiny moths, it's estimated by experts in those groups, that at least 90 percent of the species still have not been described. They are sitting waiting for someone to identify them and give a name to them. So if anybody is interested in insects and wondering if there's still something left to do, the answer is absolutely yes."
At the 2021 UC Davis Picnic Day, the 107th annual, Smith delivered a well-received presentation on "Mimicry in the Butterflies and Moths with Jeff Smith." If you missed it, it's available online on YouTube at https://youtu.be/8ZccezxhhK4.
Meanwhile, turn on your porch light and see what's flying around...like a moth to a flame (light).