North Carolina is home to a great number of moths, about 2,000 to 2,500 species! Bald Head Island is no exception: we have a ton of these fluttering beauties throughout the island, no matter what season or time of day. Moths play a vital role in our ecosystems as an essential food source for various birds, mammals, and other insects. These species also are extremely important pollinators, those that are active after dark being especially essential because they continue to pollinate throughout the night! However, many moth species are threatened by habitat change and artificial light.
Giant Gray Moth (Cymatophora approximaria)
I have always loved and been curious about moths because of their diversity and undervalued importance in our ecosystems. This is why I chose to investigate nocturnal species of moths around our island during the fall season. For my project, I am investigating how urbanization impacts species diversity and the size of the moths on our island.
I made DIY moth traps with a blacklight to attract and capture moths overnight and put them in more and less urbanized sites around the island. I put the traps out during sunset. In the morning, I remove the moths, determine their species, measure them, and release them.
Juniper Geometer Moth (Patalene olyzonaria)
Once I gather all of my data, we will be able to see if species biodiversity and size of the moths on the island are impacted by urbanization! Stay tuned for the results!
Source: Fallon, Candice (2021, July 14). For the love of moths. Xerces Society. https://xerces.org /blog/for-love-of-moths#:~:text=Moths%20play%20a%20vital%20role,settled%20down %20for%20the%20night.