Celebrating National Moth Week
It’s National Moth Week, a time to celebrate the wonders of these flying beauties and the many benefits they contribute to our ecosystem.
I still remember the first time I saw a Snowberry Clearwing. I remember staring, squinting, wondering what it was. Its yellow and black stripes made me thing it was a bee, but its rapidly beating and sparkling wings made me think it was a hummingbird. After a few blurry photos and some time on the internet, I was fascinated to learn I had actually seen a daytime flying moth in the genus Hemaris. I also learned that several moths in this genus are commonly known as “hummingbird” moths (e.g., the Hummingbird Clearwing, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth), largely because they look and act like hummingbirds.
Moths, just like hummingbirds, are important pollinators of our native plants. With long tongues that can reach the nectar of long-necked, tubular flowers, Snowberry Clearwings help pollinate plants that include spiked blazing star (Liatris spicata) and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Moths such as the Fig Sphinx pollinate the very rare Florida native ghost orchid while the White-Lined Sphinx is known to visit a range of flowers that include our native sages (Salvia spp.) and wild plumbago (Plumbago zeylanica).
Like butterflies, many moths depend on particular plants as food for their caterpillars: the Goldenrod Hooded Owlet and 81 other species of moths and butterflies rely on our native goldenrods (Solidago spp.); 58 species of moths and butterflies use our sunflowers (Helianthus spp.); 31 species of moths and butterflies require salt bush (Baccharis halimifolia) and a whopping 395 species of moths and butterflies use oaks (Quercus spp.)
So, in celebration of National Moth Week, I invite you to consider adding plants to your garden for these under-appreciated, but incredibly valuable, members of our ecosystem. As always, please feel free to stop by and ask us for help. And, if you want any further inspiration, I thought I’d share this very magical video with you. Enjoy!