San Antonio will gain a greater understanding of moths this Thursday at Malt, Hops, and Moths: Moth Night at the Alamo Brewery. The free family friendly evening of nighttime nature will shine a much-needed spotlight on the beauty, importance and diversity of moths, the underappreciated siblings of butterflies.
Moth Night takes place this Thursday, July 23 at the downtown brewhouse, 202 Lamar, 9 p.m. – midnight and will benefit the Friends of San Antonio Natural Areas. Admission is free. Want to join us? RSVP here.
The fun, educational event, sponsored by the Rivard Report, Alamo Brewery, Texas Butterfy Ranch, Trinity University, and the Arsenal Group, coincides with the fourth annual National Moth Week July 18-26 and serves as a friend and fundraiser for the Friends of San Antonio Natural Areas. Moth week, a global citizen-science project, celebrates the beauty, incredible biodiversity and ecological importance of moths.
The three-hour nature night will occur outside Alamo Brewery near the Hayes Street Bridge where mercury vapor lamp and black light moth magnets will be set up to attract moths and other insects for close-up viewing, inspection and recording. See video above, taken by Nicolas Rivard.
Would-be “moth-ers,” that is, folks interested in observing and enjoying the spectacle, can use their cell phones to snap “moth selfies” and help record data of observed species, then load them up to iNaturalist, a crowdsourced species identification cellphone app. We’ll have moth host plants, cocoons, and caterpillars on hand, a “pollinator toss,” educational slideshows and more.
Alamo Brewery will serve a special edition Sphinx Moth Amber Ale at the event in honor of National Moth
Week’s featured moth this year, members of the Sphingidae family – hawk and sphinx moths.
Moth-ers can imbibe as they see fit and also use the brew to help make “moth bait.” Participants will be invited to mix up the stinky stew — Alamo beer, overripe, mashed bananas, yeast and molasses – and smear it on nearby trees and structures with a paintbrush. (Sound like fun? Gloves provided.) The concoction is irresistible to moths.
“Moth night is a great way to get kids and adults engaged in nature,” said Daniel Large, a habitat conservation plan coordinator for the Edwards Aquifer Authority who co-organized the event with me and Trinity biology associate professor Dr. Kelly Lyons.
While everyone should come on down to the Brewery on Thursday, be aware that you can stage a moth night in your own backyard, the park or the neighborhood.
“It’s amazing what you can find once you start looking – even if it’s just from the comfort of your own home” Large said. “With moths and many other insects, just turn on a porch light at night and see what happens.”
Dr. Lyons’ Trinity biology students and special Moth Docents will assist citizen scientists in identifying moth species and uploading the data to iNaturalist. “Crowdsourced data collection at events like Moth Night help us understand the greater ecosystem,” Lyons said.
While most people view moths as pests, only one family of the hundreds of thousands of species eats clothes. As one who has been partial to publicity hogging butterflies for many years, I was surprised to learn that moths outnumber butterfly species 10:1. Scientists believe that somewhere between 160,000-500,000 species of moths exist.
Moths indisputably get a bad rap. Not only beautiful and interesting, they play an important role in the food chain, serving as pollinators and food for pollinators and other creatures.
Bees pollinate the malt that makes our beer, but moths help make tequila happen, for example. They serve as a favorite midnight snack and primary protein for bats, which pollinate the Agave from which tequila is distilled. And the “worm” in the Mezcal bottle is actually the caterpillar of the Tequila Giant Skipper, Aegiale hesperiaris, a species that lies taxonomically between a moth and a butterfly.
San Antonio’s Malt, Hops and Moths Night joins more than 370 similar National Moth Week events in 38 countries around the world. To see the event roster, check out the map on the National Moth Week webpage, and please join us on July 23!
Special thanks to our Malt, Hops and Moths Night sponsors: Alamo Brewery, The Arsenal Group, City of San Antonio, Friends of San Antonio Natural Areas, Texas Butterfly Ranch, Trinity University, and the Rivard Report. And: special thanks to Jeremy Karney of the MonksToolbox for developing our logo and Genevieve Lillian Gaudet for assembling our ads. GRACIAS!
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*Featured/top image: Trinity University biology graduate Chris Robinson shows off his “moth selfie.” Join us for Malt, Hops and Moths on July 23 at the Alamo Brewery in San Antonio to snap yours. Photo by Monika Maeckle.