February 2017 Meeting Report

After a brief overview of current Southern Piedmont Chapter business and upcoming events, Dr. Larry Mellichamp gave a mini lesson on what was blooming — rue anemone, bloodroot and tag alder — and how day length (rather than temperature) is the important determining factor for the blooming of many native plants. He noted as well that most winter-blooming plants in the Piedmont are exotic introductions.

Eight-spotted Harvester, one of around 3000 moth species in North Carolina

Next we welcomed Lenny Lample, Natural Resources Coordinator for Mecklenburg County. Mr. Lampel presented a program packed full of interesting and entertaining information on moths: “Discoveries in the Darkness.”

Here are a few of his points from my notes:

  • The easiest way to tell the difference between moths and butterflies is to examine their antennae. Butterfly antennae have little “clubs” on the tips. Moth antennae can be quite variable, from filiform to plumose, but will not have these enlargements at the tips.
  • Moths are important pollinators. Many are specialists, meaning they need one particular plant or genus of plants in order to feed and reproduce. Sometimes the plants also need a particular moth in order to produce seeds. Such is the case with Yucca species.
  • Because moth caterpillars are an important food for birds, their decline can precipitate a decline in bird populations as well.
  • In addition to being important pollinators, moths (the larvae in particular) play an important role in decomposition.
  • There are approximately 150,000 species of moths in the world, 11,500 in North America, 3,000 species in North Carolina, and as many as 1,000 species in your own backyard in the Carolina Piedmont.
Moth identification can be tricky!
  • To observe moths you can set up a light behind a sheet and turn it on at night. Black lights or mercury vapor lights work best. To attract even more species, put out some “moth bait,” a mixture of bananas and molasses.
  • In the daytime, look for moths resting on tree bark, or find their caterpillars on or under leaves.
Moth collection of Southern Piedmont member and passionate insect fan, Cathy Burk
  • Moth ID may be quite difficult requiring dissection to examine the genitalia. (!) But often it is straightforward; a good field guide will be useful. Try Peterson’s Field Guide to Moths which shows the moths in live positions (rather than splayed and flat).
Time for questions and shared musings at the end of the meeting

Thank you, Lenny, for agreeing to speak to our group! We all enjoyed it very much and learned a lot too.

March meeting: Join us as Dr. Larry Mellichamp presents, “Early American Ecology and Early American Botany” — in costume! Sunday, March 12, Reedy Creek Nature Center, 2:00. RSVP: ncnpsspchapter@gmail.com


Discoveries in the Darkness: A Look into the Local Diversity of Moths and the Connections to our Natural Communities and Native Flora

Lenny Lampel, Natural Resources Coordinator/Supervisor with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources will speak at the February 12 Southern Piedmont Chapter meeting about the nighttime world of moths. Many people are not aware that moths are just as important pollinators as butterflies and bees, and we may even find out that they are more important! Find out more about the plants moths love and need.

Date: Sunday, February 12
Time: 2:00-4:00

Reedy Creek Nature Center
2900 Rocky River Rd. Charlotte, NC 28215


Join NCNPS Today!

At only $25 per year for individual memberships, NCNPS is one of the most affordable things you can do to support environmental programs. One of the benefits of membership is invitation to members only hikes and outings such as:

  • Southern Piedmont Chapter April 9 Trillium walk. Location to follow. Tentative meeting time 2:00 PM Open to members only.
  • State Society Spring Trip to Boone May 5-7. Friday, Saturday and Sunday hiking opportunities to see spring wildflowers at the peak of their bloom. Speakers, plant auction and social. Details to follow in next newsletter. Open to members only.
  • Southern Piedmont Chapter May 14 meeting…local Pink Lady Slipper site plus additional wildflower visit. Open to members only.
  • June 3-State picnic-ARC Building at Hagan Stone Park Pleasant Garden, NC—best native plant auction, plus many affordable plants on the $5 table. Best place to find rare and unusual native plants to expand your garden.

In addition you will receive the quarterly newsletter with excellent native plant articles written by NCNPS members. Join at ncwildflower.org.

The Dr. Mellichamp Presidential challenge!

Last year, at the state picnic in June, our president, Dr. M challenged all of us to get involved…and the Southern Piedmont Chapter needs you! Spring is busy season for members as communities across the Piedmont host festivals and events and invite NCNPS to participate. Please help us staff these booths. To sign up email ncnpsspchapter@gmail.comto let us know when you help. Events include:

  • MCSWCD Tree seedling distribution, 9-12 Noon, Feb. 25, Charlotte, Hal Marshall Center
  • Reedy Creek NC Arbor Day celebration , March 18, 2-5:30 PM
  • Earth Day, numerous community events and festivals, April 22 and 29-Charlotte, Davidson, Kings Mountain, Matthews, Stowe Botanical Garden, Statesville, Monroe

    Bernice Turnipseed and friend at Earth Day Booth in Matthews 2016