February 23, 2021

Moths of North America north of Mexico series now available digitally

The Moths of North America north of Mexico (MONA) series are an absolutely incredible resource for Lepidopterophiles - if you've ever seen one of the fascicles you'll know there is no better source of detailed information about our moth species.

Until now, the series was only available in hard copy and each issue was rather pricey - many $100+ and with over 30 fascicles to date (and growing!) it would cost a small fortune to acquire each, mostly putting it out of reach for many of us.

Well, wait no longer! The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation has made most available for free on their website:


Just click the "Free PDF" button next to the "Add to Cart" button to begin downloading each file. Note that many of the files are very large (the biggest is 500 mb and the whole set is about 6 gb) so you need a decent internet connection.

The colour plates suffer a bit in quality compared to the printed versions but otherwise the digital versions are a huge resource.

Posted on February 23, 2021 19:30 by mikeburrell mikeburrell | 4 comments | Leave a comment

February 04, 2021

New online checklist of the moths of Ontario

An online checklist of the 3,248 species of moths recorded in Ontario is now posted on the TEA website:

A key benefit of this checklist is that for every species, most of the online information about that species is provided in one place. Using the Luna Moth as an example, there is a link to its iNaturalist page (showing the number of records and a map), its BugGuide page, and its Moth Photographers Group page. The number of iNaturalist records as of the end of January (research-grade only) and the page number in the Peterson Field Guide are also shown.

The species table is fully searchable. For example, entering "2020" in the search box will display the 25 moths species first documented in Ontario in this past year.

The table is available for download, so anyone can change it to suit their own needs -- perhaps as a basis for keeping their own records of species seen.

An instructions page explains how to use the table:

Another way to find it is to look at the menu bar on the left of every TEA page and click on "Moth Checklist" (click refresh on your browser if you don't see it).

The list of species has been provided by David Beadle, Mike King (@mhking) and Phill Holder, and is an update of the list included in their 2020 publication Ontario Moths: A Checklist (Hawk Owl Publishing, Newcastle, ON). That list, in turn, is an update of the Pohl et al. (2018) Ontario list. The computer work was done by Alan Macnaughton in collaboration with Chris Cheatle, Ross Dickson and Bev Edwards. A similar list maintained by Ken Sproule (@kens18) for the High Park Moth Study Group was the inspiration for this effort.
Please send comments, questions and suggestions for improvement to Dave Beadle (@dbeadle) and Alan Macnaughton (@amacnaughton).

Posted on February 04, 2021 20:14 by dkaposi dkaposi | 3 comments | Leave a comment

January 08, 2021

UK research on the earlier emergence of trees, the caterpillars that feed on the trees, and impact on the birds that rely on the larvae to feed their young

One of the roles that moths have in nature is to act as food source for birds. An article in the Guardian this week discussed the impact that climate change appears to be having on the breeding success of great tits. Oak trees are leafing out earlier in Britain, the moths that feed on them are emerging earlier and the birds need to have their young earlier to take advantage of the food supply. The question is: can the birds adapt fast enough? I'm not aware of similar research in Canada so please post any information that you have in the comments section.


Posted on January 08, 2021 02:22 by dkaposi dkaposi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 12, 2020

Rediscovering a lupine specialist

Some good news on the the species-at-risk front: a little moth that hadn't been seen in the province for over a century has been documented in three spots in southern Ontario. Anacampsis lupinella relies on the sundial lupine as a host plant, and while several lupine-reliant butterflies are extirpated from Ontario (Karner Blue, Frosted Elfin, Persius Duskywing), the moth appears to have survived in a few protected locations. It has been found repeatedly, and often in significant numbers, in Toronto's High Park, the St. Williams Conservation Reserve (Norfolk) and Lambton Shores (Lambton).

Here is a link to download the pdf of a June 2020 article from the Entomological Society of Ontario. Here are the observations of A. lupinella from the Moths of Ontario project:

Posted on December 12, 2020 16:44 by dkaposi dkaposi | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 15, 2020

The Pleasures of Moth Watching

The NY Times published an article this week on starting out as a moth watcher, and the link to citizen science (you may need to log in to read, but it should be accessible for free):


As a reminder, your photos on iNat are also used to create data for the Ontario Moth Atlas, which is up to 62,000 records covering seven major families: Saturniidae, Sphingidae, most Erebidae (genus Catocala, Notodontidae and Arctiinae), Lasiocampidae, Hepialidae and Apatelodidae.

A little over half of the current Atlas data comes from iNaturalist records. The Atlas also includes institutional specimen records from the Canadian National Collection, the Royal Ontario Museum and the BOLD (Barcode of Life Datasystems) project of the University of Guelph, as well as other museums in Noth America and Europe. BugGuide and BAMONA records are also included, as are records submitted directly to the TEA by various observers.

Posted on August 15, 2020 16:56 by dkaposi dkaposi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 01, 2020

What a pace!

Who knew mothing would become so popular? July is generally the peak month for moth observations in Ontario and there were a record 46,288 observations added to the Moths of Ontario project in July. To put that in perspective, the number of monthly observations in July for each of the last 3 years was (rounded):
July 2017 - 3,700
July 2018 - 11,000
July 2019 - 24,400

So records basically tripled from 2017 to 2018, then more than doubled in 2019, and have almost doubled again in 2020. Phenomenal.

National Moth Week also appears to be a success with 16,300 records so far, averaging 2,000+ per day. I suspect that more observations will be added over time if others, like me, still have photos to post from that week.

One by-product of the massive increase in records is that it may take some time for your observations to be confirmed. Remember, this is a volunteer, peer-resourced site, so please take a little time to 'pay it forward' and add some IDs to other people's observations if you have a few moments.

Posted on August 01, 2020 17:48 by dkaposi dkaposi | 1 comment | Leave a comment

July 22, 2020

New Ontario Moths Checklist available

A surprising number (to me) of new moths are added to the list of Ontario species regularly - including at least three new species in the last month or so. To help keep track of developments, David Beadle and Mike King have teamed up with Phill Holder to publish an updated provincial checklist. Here are the details from the publisher:

"As more and more naturalists discover the enjoyment of identifying and appreciating moths, comes the inevitable urge to put together a personal list, but first there has to be a definitive provincial list. The authors have researched all published records and private collections to publish the first complete, and most up to date checklist of the 3187 verified moth species recorded in Ontario.

The main checklist includes photographic plates with examples of the family of each species. Separate sections include photographic additions to the list and a few records awaiting verification. All these records include dates, locations, and finders’ names.

With more than 230 photographs, we believe this checklist will be invaluable to all moth enthusiasts from beginner to expert and is spiral bound for easy use."

The checklist will be available August 1, and it is available for pre-order here.

Posted on July 22, 2020 12:09 by dkaposi dkaposi | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 13, 2020

National Moth Week approaching!

National Moth Week runs each year in the last full week of July. This year (2020) it begins this coming weekend (July 18-26).

In the past few years, Ontario has lead all Canadian provinces/territories and American states in number of observations submitted and species reported in iNaturalist - let's see if we can do it again!

If you want to follow the week's results, check out the NMW 2020 Ontario project here: https://inaturalist.ca/projects/national-moth-week-2020-ontario

To participate, just report your moth observations during the week to iNaturalist.

Participants are encouraged to register their public or private "events" here: http://nationalmothweek.org/register-a-nmw-event-2020/

Happy Moth-ing!

Posted on July 13, 2020 02:16 by mikeburrell mikeburrell | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 11, 2020

DIY entomology II - build your own moth trap

@mikeburrell recently posted a how-to on building your own moth trap, including tips on where to source materials. These traps are fantastic and using them allows you to collect insects throughout the night, which is helpful as different species fly at different times. So if you are relying on a sheet and staying up until 1:00 am, you still may be missing some species. You also may get more sleep by using a trap....

One option to consider for the trap is a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, rather than a muck bucket. The advantage of the garbage can is that you can store most of the material in the can, and leave it outside.

Also, as Mike notes in his post, mercury vapour lights are becoming hard to find. High quality UV bulbs are also good for traps. Bioquip, based in Los Angeles, will ship to Canada. I haven't found a Canadian vendor for this product. If anyone has any other suggestions, please add a comment below.

Posted on July 11, 2020 17:22 by dkaposi dkaposi | 1 comment | Leave a comment

May 18, 2020

More on moth's 'secret' role as pollinators

Moths have a little-known, yet important role in plant pollination and a team of British researchers published a paper last week on the topic in the Royal Society's Biology Letters. The article details research on pollination of wild flowers in an agricultural setting in Norfolk (the original one, not the one on the Lake Erie shore...). Apparently, moths' hairy abdomens are under-researched as pollen transport vectors. From the abstract:

"Here, we report that in agricultural landscapes, macro-moths can provide unique, highly complex pollen transport links, making them vital components of overall wild plant–pollinator networks in agro-ecosystems. Pollen transport occurred more frequently on the moths' ventral thorax rather than on their mouthparts that have been traditionally targeted for pollen swabbing. Pollen transport loads suggest that nocturnal moths contribute key pollination services for several wild plant families in agricultural landscapes, in addition to providing functional resilience to diurnal networks. Severe declines in richness and abundance of settling moth populations highlight the urgent need to include them in future management and conservation strategies within agricultural landscapes."

For those looking for new reading material, there are dozens of references in the article that may be of interest.

Finally, here are two news articles on the research, from the BBC and from CNN. I'm not aware of any Canadian coverage yet.

If anyone knows of similar Canadian or U.S research, please let me know.

Posted on May 18, 2020 16:25 by dkaposi dkaposi | 0 comments | Leave a comment