Final thoughts on Moth Week

Drepana arcuata

Well, Moth Week 2023 has come and gone. I have more or less resumed my life as a diurnal biped, and reduced my caffeine consumption by about 75%. It was a rather glorious 9 days, and there are many things I learned about moths and habitat, as well as some tactical errors I made that, at times, decreased my enjoyment of the adventures. There was a find of note, the first ever Orgyia vetusta (Western Tussock Moth) documented in the state of Washington, as well as the plebeian realization of how nearly ubiquitous (and yet wildly variable in coloration) Cosmia praeacuta is at this time of year. But my most enduring memory will no doubt be kneeling between the sheets, on that spectacular 7th Night of Moth Week, while dozens of moths swirled about my head, and dozens more perched and crawled on every available surface, and trying to grok in the fullness of the multiplicity of forms and colors and patterns that life, in the guises of moths, was displaying before me. 

Drepana bilineata

One thing that I will not do the next time I set out to celebrate Moth Week, is to set a numbers goal on it. I did manage to find my hundred species, and even accomplished it with one night to go, but I noticed both that it put an onus of failure on some nights that were only poor in terms of new species for that tally but were otherwise rich with bug life, and added some pressure to not miss any new species on other nights, and even slight disappointment when I realized that a particular moth wasn’t something new, but yet another variation of Hemeroplanis historialis or Cosmia praeacuta. You’d think that after 62 years on this planet I would have learned not to set personal goals about things I can’t control, but apparently I have not. Yet. 

A much better photo of Lateroligia ophiogramma than I got on Saturday night

Another thing I would do differently is to go into training beforehand, so to speak. I purposefully avoided mothing in the weeks leading up to Moth Week, because I didn’t want to be burnt out when that time came, I didn’t want to burn out my readers on moths before we reached that celebration, and I utterly failed to realize how drastically my moth identification skill had eroded. Boning up on at least the most common moths flying in mid-summer would have saved me a few hours of work each day, would have alleviated some of the pressure of processing the previous night’s moths before getting a new batch, and would have made my photographing of moths at the lights more efficient. 

Caripeta divisata

I feel like I learned something about where to set up my lights in a given habitat. I had always placed my Temple of Ultraviolet Light in open areas, if they were available, under the assumption that I wanted it to be visible to the widest area possible. But now I think that finding spots that offer shelter from the wind might be even more important. There is also the fact that areas under a tree canopy don’t lose the day’s heat nearly as quickly as those in the open, and those along a watercourse lose that heat even more quickly. 

Cyclophora dataria

I also think that next time, if I do any residential mothing, I would be more inclined to choose places with less light pollution. My dad’s house was the only residential or urban locale where I didn’t feel that there was a lot of competition from other light sources, and it was also by far the most productive of those locations. I’m also not sure I would confine myself to Clark County again, although if I thought ahead and got permission/access to some places in relatively wild areas in the middle of the county, that were also somewhat different habitat types, it could be productive and enlightening. 

Herpetogramma abdominalis

But, for the most part, these are all minor tweaks, and even if another Moth Week went exactly like this one did, I’d be happy to do it, because, overall, it was a ton’o’fun! There are probably other species of moths that I saw, and possibly even photographed, during the 9 days of Moth Week, but these 113 species in 16 families are the ones I can positively identify;


Symmoca signatella


Acossus populi (Aspen Carpenterworm Moth)


Anania tertialis

Chalcoela iphitalis (Sooty-winged Chalcoela) 

Chrysoteuchia topiarius

Dicymolomia metalliferalis

Elophila obliteralis

Euchromius ocellea

Herpetogramma abdominalis

 Stegea salutalis 

Udea profundalis- 


Ethmia marmorea 


Drepana arcuata (Arched Hooktip Moth)

Drepana bilineata 

Habrosyne scripta (Lettered Habrosyne) 

Pseudothyatira cymatophoroides (Tufted Thyatrin) 


Bleptina caradrinalis

Clemensia albata

Dasychira vagans

Hemeroplanis historialis- 

Hypena abalienalis 

Hypena bijugalis (Dimorphic Bomolocha Moth)  

Hypena palparia

Idia americalis 

Lophocampa maculata (Spotted Tussock Moth) 

Orgyia antiqua

Orgyia pseudotsugata 

Orgyia vetusta

Pyrrharctia Isabella (Isabella Tiger Moth) 

Rivula propinqualis

Scoliopteryx libatrix (Herald)

Spilosoma virginica

Zale lunata (Lunate Zale Moth) 

Zanclognatha jacchusalis 


Anavitrinella pampinaria 

Caripeta divisata (Grey Spruce Looper Moth) 

Ceratodalia gueneata

Costaconvexa centrostrigaria-

Cyclophora dataria- 

Cyclophora pendulinaria (Pearly- grey Wave) 

Dysstroma citrata (Dark Marbled Carpet Moth) 

Ecliptopera silaceata (Small Phoenix Moth) 

Epirrhoe alternata

Euchlaena tigrinaria

Euphyia intermediata

Eupithecia johnstoni

Eulithis xylina

Gabriola dyari (Dyar’s Looper)

Hesperumia sulphuraria

Idaea demissaria 

Idaea dimidiata

Iridopsis emasculatum 

Macaria lorquinaria (Lorquin’s Angle Moth) 

Macaria signaria-

Mesoleuca ruficillata

Neoalcis californiaria

Perizoma curvilinea

Perizoma grandis

Pero Mizon 

Plagodis phlogosaria

Prochoerodes forficaria

Selenia alciphearia

Thallophaga taylorata 

Trichodezia californiata 

Xanthorhoe ferrugata

Xanthorhoe labradorensis (Labrador Carpet Moth)


Malacosoma disstria 

Tolype distincta 


Mompha circumscriptella


Adelphagrotis stellaris 

Agrotis ipsilon

Amphipyra tragopoginis (Mouse Moth) 

Anaplectoides prasina (Green Arches Moth) 

Anhimella perbrunnea

Apamea amputatrix-

Apamea devastator

Aseptis binotata 

Autographa californica

Cosmia praeacuta- 

Dargida procinctus (Olive Green Cutworm Moth)

Diarsia esurialis

Diarsia rosaria

Eosphoropteryx thyatyroides (Pink-patched Looper Moth) 

Feltia herilis (Master’s Dart)

Galgula partita (Wedgling Moth)

Lacinipolia subjuncta

Lateroligia ophiogramma

Melanchra adjuncta

Mesapamea secalis

Mythimna unipuncta

Noctua pronuba (Large Yellow Underwing)

Ochropleura implecta

Panthea virginarius (Cascades Panthea)

Properigea albimacula

Proxenus miranda

Pseudorthodes irrorata

Raphia frater (The Brother)

Spodoptera praefica

Xestia c-nigrum

Zotheca tranquilla


Coelodasys unicornis (Unicorn Prominent)

Furcula scolopendrina (Zigzag Furcula) 

Gluphisia sp., probably septentrionis

Nadata gibbosa (White-dotted Prominent)

Oedemasia semirufescens

Schizura ipomaeae


Acrobasis tricolorella

Euzophera semifuneralis 


Smerinthus opthalmica 


Morophagoides burkerella


Cydia pomonella

Orthotaenia undulana


Callizzia amorata (Gray Scoopwing Moth)

Melanchra adjuncta

10 thoughts on “Final thoughts on Moth Week”

  1. Never thought I’d say “thanks for mothing” … but here I go: thank you. Love learning and love reading about your process, too. Guess I’ll pencil it in on my calendar for next year! Cool stuff!.. You know what they say” mothing ventured, mothing gained”. Well done!

  2. Thank you for your sharing your experiences with us. I relived some of the mothing experiences of the last 20 years I had when reading about your joy and excitement.

  3. Thanks! I loved your Moth Week series.
    I had subscribed to you at least a year ago, and received you messages regularly until about January 2023.

    Then, recently, I discovered that your messages had landed in the spam folder.

    I have yet to learn how to avoid that.

    I marvel at the quality of your images.

    Could you please let me know:

    What type of clack light you use
    What camera equipment you employ.

    I have done a bit of mothing year round here in Metchosin on
    Southern Vancouver Island and have documented about 300
    moth species. However lately my yield decined to almost zero.

    I suspect the “Spongy Moth” Aerial spraying with BTk has
    something to do with it. But My light source may also be

    So, any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Jochen! Glad you’re back and enjoyed the Moth Week series. My primary lights are 12v ones I got through BioQuip, but they went out of business, so I don’t know what to recommend. I use an Olympus TG 5 in the field, and a TG 6 at home. Both of them have built in photo stacking.
      You’re probably right that the BTk spraying is wrecking your mothing. Seems there should be a better way!

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