Join the US and 37 other countries celebrating National Moth Week this July! Here are some interesting facts and links about about Moths in Illinois:
– Moths and butterflies belong to the order of insects called Lepidoptera (scaled wings), with over 2000 different species found in Illinois, Only 150 of the 2000 are butterflies, the rest are moth species. Like butterflies, their caterpillars require specific host plants.
– Moths feed many types of birds and bats, and are very important pollinators! Some native plants such as the endangered Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid depend on a specific type of moth (Hawkmoths) for pollination. Read more about this relationship between moth and orchid here.
– Some moths fly during the day (Hummingbird or Clearwing Moth), but most fly at night.
– Moths are just as beautiful as butterflies with intricate patterns on their wings and body parts. Check out these beautiful moth images: 20 moth species more beautiful than butterflies
– Some Illinois Moths such as the Luna Moth or Cecropia Moth have a wing span of 5-6″ wide. Wow! I remember finding their cocoons when I was young. But like other Lepidoptera they are in decline due to habitat loss and pesticide use.
– Several moths create cocoons in leaf litter. Another reason to “Leave the leaves”
– Some moths have hearing organs to detect the sound of approaching predators like bats.
– Moths were around with dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago, and butterflies have been around only 40 million years.
– The Gypsy Moth is an invasive moth brought to the US from overseas for silk production many years ago but now does damage too many types of native trees, including our native Oaks.
– The Cloth or Clothes moth live in dark spaces and often feed on organic material such as wool. Cedar and moth balls are often used to deter them, but the best way to prevent damage is to clean materials and clothing before storing.
– Many native plants are host plants for moths (i.e. their caterpillars depend on these plants for food, just like Butterflies.
Prairie Nursery’s Host plants for butterflies and moths.
Midwest Pollinator Plants (not all plants listed are native to Illinois)
– We can help protect moths by educating ourselves and others about moths, preserving our natural habitats (including wetlands) and open spaces, planting native host plants, nectar and pollinator plants for moths, removing invasive species, preventing the collection of native species from the wild, leaving the leaves, and using less pesticides! (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides).
Here are some great resources to learn more: