9/10/2007

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Mothing at TTP

Ailanthus Webworm, Atteva punctella, whose larvae live in webs in trees of the genus Ailanthus, also known as Tree of Heaven, a common backyard ornamental, and other deciduous trees. (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Our first official Members' Event, Mothing At Tommy Thompson Park, took place last Wednesday evening (September 5) at TTPBRS. The event started in the early evening, just prior to sunset, and was guest-hosted by the extremely knowledgable David Beadle. Participants were treated to a guided tour of the station while we waited for
dark to fall and the first moths to begin appearing. Moths were drawn in to white sheets using blacklights and a high-watt mercury vapour lamp, which produce UV rays that mimic the pheromones given off by female moths. Many trees were also slathered with "goop", an aromatic blend of beer, red wine, molasses, brown sugar and overripe bananas, which will attract many of the nectar-feeding moths. Moths were collected in vials and brought back to a central table for identification, and to allow everyone a chance to admire them.

Although initially a little slow, things picked up as the
evening progressed, and by the end of the evening a total of 55 species had been tallied for the night. About 20 people came out to see the moths, and the last participants finally headed home just before midnight. Everyone who came had a great time and saw some neat moths, and we hope to do it again in the future!

Participants listen to our host, David Beadle, as he gives us an intro to moths and mothing. On the table are the first of the night's moths. (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

David checks one of the blacklighted sheets for moths. (Ian Sturdee/TTPBRS)

Raspberry Pyrausta, Pyrausta signatalis. Larvae feed primarily on beebalm. (David Beadle)

Greater Black Letter Dart, Xestia dolosa, at a "gooped" tree. (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The moth Abagrotis orbis, a sand dune specialist, rare and locally found in Ontario. (David Beadle)