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The Pleasures of Moth-Watching

  • August 12, 2020

“One thing that makes moths interesting is their role in the food chain,” Mr. Cipkowski said. “They’re so crucial for birds and other animals.”

Many bird species, he said, rely on caterpillars as high-value food to sustain their young, while other species, including bats, spiders and birds, consume adult moths.

Farmscape Ecology — run by Conrad Vispo, a biologist, Claudia Knab-Vispo, a botanist, and Anna Duhon, a social anthropologist — is retained by clients like land trusts to do natural-resource inventories. If a prospective client doesn’t ask about moths specifically, the staff may suggest adding them to the menu.

“Once they hear how diverse and compelling moths are, they usually want them counted, too,” Mr. Cipkowski said. “Also, the fact that they are elusive and understudied compared to other large insects gets people excited — and especially when they learn that some species are pollinators.”

The estimate is that there are about 1,500 species in Columbia County, and some 3,400 in New York State. So far, Farmscape Ecology has counted 644 (and 89 butterfly species, by comparison).

Loosely speaking, Mr. Cipkowski said, butterflies could be described as a type of moth that has evolved to fly by day. That said, some moth species are day flyers, so like other typically cited distinctions, it’s not absolute.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/realestate/moth-watching-night-garden.html

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