June 11, 2019

Moths in the News: Invasive Gypsy Moth

Lots of people have negative impressions of moths, knowing them as pests that eat their clothes or as caterpillars that defoliate their trees and other plants. Generally speaking, these are uncommon occurrences. Yes, some moths eat fabrics, and yes, most caterpillars eat plants. But usually the eating is kept in check by predators like birds. There are some exceptions, of course.

One of these exceptions is when a non-native species is introduced into a new area. In the northeast part of the United States the introduced Gypsy Moths that are wreaking havoc. There are actually several species from Asia and Europe. They are from the genus Lymantria.

The USDA has a website dedicated to these moths with instructions on how to make sure you don't transport them to a new area if you are moving from an area where they are known to be found.

I see there are a handful of iNaturalist observations in the central part of the United States. While I am always keen to see a new species, I'll hope they are not spreading into the Great Plains. Realistically I think they have probably reached the point that they are beyond control and it will probably just be a matter of when, rather than if, they arrive here.

The USDA has webpages on four other invasive moths that are being monitored:
European Grapevine Moth
False Codling Moth
Light Brown Apple Moth
Old World Bollworm

Posted on June 11, 2019 15:23 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 05, 2019

Moths in the News: Women's College World Series

I have a collection of interesting moth stories that I will occasionally share with you through this blog. The first is a recent article that appeared on ESPN, of all places. It's not too often (ever?) that moths are mentioned by sports writers, but here we are!

Apparently the moths have been numerous under the lights in Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. Kudos to ESPN for actually writing about how this year's weather has affected moth numbers, interviewing a knowledgeable source at the OKC Zoo, mentioning a specific species (Cabbage Looper), and writing about their beneficial role as pollinators. This could have easily just been a "moths are problems and should be exterminated" article, but it wasn't.

There is a photo in the article of what appears to be a Teresa Sphinx on the outfield wall of the stadium. Should we add it as an observation in iNaturalist? ;)

Read the ESPN article here: "WCWS 2019: It's moth mayhem amid softball in Oklahoma City"

Posted on June 05, 2019 16:41 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 28, 2019

Third mothing night of the year!

Last week was windy and rainy. More rain is expected this week, but Thursday looks to be nice. Let's plan to meet at Thunderbird Chapel on Hwy 9 east of Norman at 8 pm on Thursday, May 30.

I hope to see some of you there!

If you have questions, send me a message or give me a call.

(405) 308-8972

Posted on May 28, 2019 13:38 by zdufran zdufran | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 03, 2019

Second mothing night of the year!

I've been enjoying seeing so many new people contributing moth observations in Oklahoma this year. I've contact several people who are interested in coming to the next mothing night.

Let's plan to meet at Thunderbird Chapel on Hwy 9 east of Norman at 8 pm on Thursday, May 9 - assuming there is no rain. If it looks like it is going to be rainy Thursday evening then we'll meet on Friday night instead.

I hope to see some of you there!

If you have questions, send me a message.


Posted on May 03, 2019 19:38 by zdufran zdufran | 1 comments | Leave a comment

April 16, 2019

First mothing meet up of the year

A group of moth enthusiasts are meeting at the Thunderbird Chapel along Hwy 9 east of Norman tonight (April 16) at 8 pm. All are welcome to join us. We'll hang out around lit sheets for a couple of hours and see what comes and doesn't get blown away immediately.

Sorry for the short notice. We'll have another mothing meet up in 3-4 weeks, so stay tuned!

Posted on April 16, 2019 20:46 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 07, 2019

Taxonomic heirarchy for Oklahoma Moths

Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes moths and butterflies. There are about 180,000 known species within this order, the majority of which (90-95%) are moths. This huge number is broken up into 126 families and 46 superfamilies.

I thought it would be interesting to spend a little time looking at the taxonomical breakdown of our "Moths of Oklahoma" project. We have the most observations from the following superfamilies (bold) and families:

  • Noctuoidea (2514 observations; 318 species)
    • Erebidae (1259 observations; 131 species)
    • Noctuidae (1027 observations; 157 species)
  • Pyraloidea (948 observations; 139 species)
    • Crambidae (685 observations; 98 species)
    • Pyralidae (239 observations; 41 species)
  • Geometroidea (663 observations; 89 species)
    • Geometridae (661 observations; 88 species)
  • Bombycoidea (518 observations; 46 species)
    • Sphingidae (363 observations; 32 species)
    • Saturniidae (153 observations; 13 species)

A couple of quick notes:
  1. I pulled these numbers at the beginning of February 2019. They can and will change over time as more Oklahoma observations of Lepidoptera are submitted to iNaturalist.
  2. I am omitting a lot of superfamilies and families and only listing the most populous (those with more than 600 observations). For instance, we have Oklahoma observations in 6 families within the Noctuoidea superfamily, but I only listed the two with significant numbers.
  3. Something that I have gleaned after looking at all of these family and superfamily names is that superfamilies end in "-idea" while families end in "-idae."
I plan to do a separate post on each of the 7 families list above. Stay tuned for each of those posts!

Posted on February 07, 2019 21:23 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 31, 2019

First moth memory

Recently I was reading a book called "Last Child in the Woods" which is all about getting kids outdoors in nature. The author, Richard Louv, talks a lot about his early childhood memories in nature and how formative those moments were for him. This got me to thinking about my own childhood and I decided to sit down and write some of my memories from childhood that took place in nature and the outdoors.

One of these memories is my first moth memory. I would guess that I was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade at the time, perhaps younger. We had a ping pong table on our back porch that folded up in half when not in use and pushed up against the back wall of our house. One year we were pulling out the table to play on it and I found a large deceased moth (which I now know to be a sphinx) between the two panels of the table. I remember holding it and thinking how alien it looked and realizing I had never seen a live moth of this size flying about. I remember either it's antennae or proboscis being very fascinating.

It would be a lie to say that I was forever a lover of moths from that moment. But I do remember that moment very distinctly, as I do several other moments involving various insects and other creatures I discovered in my backyard. I hope that my own kiddos have very positive memories in nature as they grow older.

What is your first moth memory?

Posted on January 31, 2019 22:33 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 22, 2019

An appeal for more common names

I came across this blog post written by a British moth-er, discussing names of moths and how there are few widely known and accepted names for micro moths. I think it's a really good post and an appeal worthy of consideration.

We should be working towards widely-accepted common names for all of our moths. I've certainly thought of a few names that seemed more fitting to me than the one that is currently accepted, and I've also thought of a few names for moths that only have scientific names for now.

Can you think of any good ones?

What are your favorite moths names that already exist?

(I'll throw out there, my mother-in-law, who has attended a few of our moth-ing nights, loves the Festive Midget's name. She also thinks the Diabolical Fungus Moth is a pretty good one.)

Posted on January 22, 2019 14:56 by zdufran zdufran | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 08, 2019

Moth exhibit at Sam Noble Museum

We're part way through the long, dreary days of winter. We're nestled all snug in our beds with visions of Luna moths dancing in our heads... Fear not! You won't have to wait another 3 months to gaze at some beautiful moths. The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman is hosting an exhibit called "Winged Tapestries: Moths at Large" from January 26 through May 12. I don't know quite what to expect from this exhibit but I am excited about it! I think I am going to try to go on opening day. Who is with me!?!

Posted on January 08, 2019 17:31 by zdufran zdufran | 2 comments | Leave a comment

July 21, 2018


Hey all of you wonderful moth-ers!

Today is the first day of National Moth Week, which runs through Sunday, July 29. I want to encourage everyone to watch your porchlights closely over the next 9 nights and log as many moths as you can to the iNat app, using the Moths of Oklahoma project and the National Moth Week project.

Secondly, on Tuesday night, July 24, we’re having an OFFICIAL MOTHING NIGHT that is registered with National Moth Week. We’ll be meeting in the Thunderbird Chapel parking lot along Highway 9, east of Norman, just before sunset (about 8:30 pm). We’ll have lighted sheets set up and will probably watch for moths until about 10:45. Anyone and everyone is invited to come!

If you have questions, feel free to call/text or email me.

Zach DuFran
405 308 8972

Posted on July 21, 2018 19:00 by zdufran zdufran | 1 comments | Leave a comment