One hundred and fifty participants convened, from ten states and Canada. In this photo, your narrator debriefs with up and coming uber birder Alexandra Forsythe (her website is HERE) and her mother Cheryl. They traveled from Indiana to attend the conference. Alex, who is 15, already possesses awesome field skills. This photo was taken just after a 7:30 am bird walk around the lodge (crazy us; we were up until 2 am mothing!), and we had just escorted 30 other hard cases to look for birds. Alex found us many interesting species, including an eastern kingbird nest with two chicks about ready to fly the coop.
Mothapalooza draws a diverse demographic, including many sharp young naturalists and biologists. It's great to see such interest in natural history among a younger crowd; all too many of these sorts of events tend to be comprised of aging silverbacks such as myself. Nothing wrong with that, but we do need to think about the next crop of conservationists.
Burr Oak State Park is well off the beaten path, but most definitely worth visiting. The lake behind the lodge is beautiful, and the surrounding landscape is heavily wooded and full of flora and fauna. CLICK HERE to learn more about the park and its lodge.
I could say lots of great things about all of these people, and the numerous other expert moth-ers, van and bus drivers, and volunteers that made Mothapalooza possible, but this would turn into a very LONG blog post. Suffice to say that we were fortunate to have most of THE BEST lepidopterists and naturalists around involved, and that's what makes Mothapalooza such a special event. I do have to single out Mary Ann. She got on board with the concept from the beginning, and has served as our CEO for both Mothapalooza I and II. Without her talents, organizational skills, and hard work, it wouldn't be possible. We are also grateful to the Ohio Division of Wildlife for its support of Mothapalooza and natural history in general, and the Ohio Lepidopterists for their invaluable assistance. Please CLICK HERE for the complete roster of our supporters, all of whom we greatly appreciate! And keep in mind that National Moth Week soon approaches!
Bigfoot than the people at the previous week's conference did!
There were five mothing stations scattered around the area, each rigged with light traps to lure in our targets. A fleet of vans, driven by wonderful volunteers, regularly visited each site, taking people to and fro. Organizing and managing all of that was a major headache, and kudos go to Olivia Kittle and Elisabeth Rothschild for taking all of it on and handling logistics beautifully. We also owe a big debt to moth expert Diane Platco-Brooks, who opened up her property, Brookside Haven, to Mothapaloozians. Diane's place is fabulous and moth-filled, and was the hand's-down favorite site. What a gracious host, to allow two nights of raving moth fanatics to invade and moth until the wee hours!
We saw much more than moths. This southern flying squirrel caused a stir when it glided down from the trees, landed on Brian Herriott's shoulder, bounced off him and onto a lady standing nearby, then shot back into the trees. Diane Platco-Brooks also had feeding stations stocked with crunchy peanut butter, and her flying squirrels entertained scores of people.
Wallace O'Dowd Wildlife Area. There were many highlights, not the least of which was an eye level summer tanager hunting wasps and bees within twenty feet of the group.
David Wagner's Saturday afternoon field trip group found this extraordinary beast, the paddle caterpillar, Acronicta funeralis. After all, it is prominently featured on the cover of his book the Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America. It uses those strange paddle-tipped threadlike structures to flail would-be predatory insects such as ants, flies, or wasps.
Soon, I'll slap up a moth-heavy post. We found legions of ultra-cool moths, and I look forward to sharing some of them.
Thanks to everyone who made Mothapalooza a big success, and traveled from near and far to be a part of it. We are already cooking up plans for Mothapalooza III!