Tonight I am on the south side of Lake Merwin, about 10 miles east of Woodland, Washington, at about 500’ elevation on a little landing off an old logging road. I’m not too worried about being bothered tonight, because I’m off the main road on public access land owned by Pacific Power and Light. The moon is almost full and doesn’t set until 1am, but that doesn’t matter because there is a steep hillside to the south that blocks its glow. It was 72⁰ at sunset, with almost no air movement, and mostly cloudless skies.
I’m surrounded on all sides by a nice 2nd growth forest which either wasn’t replanted after logging, or was done so with the idea of creating a healthy forest, because this is no tree farm. Lots of alder, and big leaf and vine maple, salmonberry, Doug-fir, and Western red-cedar. It’s also a pretty open forest, and I’ll bet my lights are visible to 50 or 60 acres of territory. I set up two Temples of Ultraviolet Light tonight, the second being up the hill and around the corner of a gated road. It feels pretty secure here, and I’m not too worried about leaving either set up to attend to the other one.
11:27- Well, I wrote the foregoing and went to check my sheets at 9:20. And there were already at least a dozen moths! And they just kept coming in. At first there wasn’t much diversity, and most of the first couple dozen moths I saw were either Lacinopolia olivacea, Cosmia praeacuta, Macaria signaria, or Herpetogramma abdominalis . Then it really got going, and the last time I looked there were at least 100 moths at each setup, probably representing 15-20 species total. There are so many moths I can’t keep track! It was two hours before I sat down again, because there were new moths coming in constantly. This is what I remember from good nights of mothing!
12:24- Temperature has dropped to 63⁰, and moths are still coming in, although they aren’t as frenetic, nor as prone to spook when I try to photograph them. The diversity is still not huge, but the numbers are great, with multiple individuals of just about every species I’m seeing. At last count I have 8 Nadata gibbosa (White-dotted Prominent) at one light and 5 at the other, which is at least 4 times as many of them as I’ve ever seen in one night. I had been planning on starting to pack up about now, which would get me home about 2, but this is too much fun, and I’m too wired up on moth madness to sleep anyway. Besides, when it does really cool off, I’ll get my best photo opportunities. And my experience has been that most of the silk moths and sphinx moths show up later in the evening, working graveyards rather than swing shift.
2:20- On my last round I found a large orthopteran that I think is probably a shield-backed katydid, but I can’t find a match in my book. I also found several new moths, and I think I’ve found over thirty species to add to the tally. This is so much fun that I’m loathe to give up, but the temperature is down to 57⁰ and it’s gonna take awhile to examine things as I tear down, so I think I’ll take one more walk up the hill to the satellite shrine and at least gather my gear from there.
3:45- I just got back to the van after taking down the light I had set up further up the logging road. It took awhile, because interesting new moths kept coming in. But I had to take a second and write this down because as I’ve been writing these logs in real time I have made several statements about the way I thought things would go, and many (most) of them have turned out to be wrong. However I was just proved correct on one of my earlier statements tonight, because a big, beautiful sphinx moth, Smerinthus opthalmica , flew in at 3:05, just as I was getting ready to tear down my satellite shrine. Even a blind squirrel…
Home; 5:53- At last count before I broke down my setups I had 11 Nadata gibbosa at one light, and 10 at the other. That’s a great night of mothing in its own right. And I’d guess there was at least a dozen other species where I had double digit visitors. I tried to count the number of moths on and around the temple up the hill and there were over 150 moths, and I think the lower one had more, although it had less diversity. It was a little after 5am when I started driving home, and when I got out of the trees I realized it was getting light outside. I think that was the first time that I ever mothed through a whole night, at least while remaining conscious the whole time. But I’m beat now, and having a hard time keeping my eyes open to type this. Iced tea, curiosity, enthusiasm, and moth madness can only carry one so far.
A very incomplete list of moths that are new for the week and that I found last night, Friday, July 28, 2023;
These 28 bring the total up to 81 for the week, and I found at least ten more species last night that I haven’t positively identified.