Breaks Interstate Park (BIP) is home to a variety of unique and beautiful moths. These moths play an important role in the ecosystem of the park. Adult moths and their caterpillars are food for frogs, toads, lizards, bats, birds. Caterpillars are an important source of nutrition for baby birds. Two birds found in the park eat a lot of moths: the Eastern Whip-poor-wills and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Moths also pollinate flowers while feeding on their nectar, which benefits the wildflowers at BIP.
Giant Leopard Moth ©️Kelly Krechmer
The diversity and quanitiy of moths found in BIP provides insight into the health of the environment of Breaks, Virgina. They are an indicator species because they are sensitve to changes in air quality and use of pesticides.
Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar ©️Kelly Krechmer
Monitoring moths at BIP can be easily accomplished by anyone with the free citizen science tool, iNaturalist (avaiable on the Internet and as a smartphone app).
At night, moths are attracted to the lights of buildings throughout the developed section of the park. Keep an eye on these areas at night, and first thing in the morning, and you will observe many species of interesting moths.
Snap a photo of any moths you observe and upload all photos to iNaturalist to share your observation with the world. Who knows? You may even find a moth species no one else has seen at the Breaks!
Imperial Moth ©️Kelly Krechmer