Mothapalooza Light – 2022

Registration for 2022 Mothapalooza will be available soon! Please check our website periodically!


With Jim McCormac, John Howard and Becky Donaldson

& many other special leaders and guests

Friday eve through Sunday morning, July 15 -17, 2022

Registration fee: $150.00 per person 


 Explore a Dazzling Diversity of Summer Night Fliers

Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Arc of Appalachia’s Headquarters

Two nights of mothing, three meals & two evening presentations

Saturday afternoon field trips & optional lodging

The Event! In the biologically rich 3100-acre Highlands Nature Sanctuary, during this weekend event we will have the opportunity to witness large numbers of moth species and other nocturnal insects that will be attracted to our specially-installed light stations, all while under the mentorship of expert naturalists. Brunch will be served at 11 am each morning, and Saturday night dinner will be served at 6:30, with evening presentations on both Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday afternoon guided hikes will expose participants to the stunning beauty and rich biodiversity of the karst country landscape of the Sanctuary’s Rocky Fork Gorge region. This event will serve to help you begin, or further advance, your personal journey of discovery into moths’ mysterious and intriguing nocturnal world. Be prepared to stay up late into the night, so come well rested!

Drawing Us in Like Moths to Flame. For those of us who think of moths as mostly errant drab-colored creatures that accidentally stray into our homes through an open door, an intentional encounter with moths in their natural environment – with their exquisite wing patterns, often brightly furred bodies, and remarkable diversity – is a transformative experience. Once hooked on mothing, those hot mid-summer nights will never be the same. Ohio has over 3,000 species of moths – ranging from micro moths a few millimeters in size to giant silk moths larger than the palm of our hands. True, some look like “little brown moths,” but others look like they are woven out of the finest tapestry or composed with hues borrowed from fruit sherbets.  Moths can look just like wasps; hummingbirds, bird droppings, owl eyes and even spiders! And, moths bear marvelous names, like Blurry Chocolate Angle, Pistachio Emerald, Scribbler, Green Marvel, Betrothed, Penitent, German Cousin, and Blinded Sphinx! 

All you need is a mentor. Because there are so many different kinds of moths and their activity takes place when we are usually fast asleep, it can be intimidating to take the first step to learn them. And yet, that same diversity is part of their appeal. Here is where wiser mentors, as provided in this event, can make a big difference – showing you how to use a field guide, make good use of cell phones apps, and take notes of the visual clues at your disposal that can lead to a firm ID, if not by species, at least by genus. The ID will lead you into fascinating realms of natural history and ecology, what the caterpillars eat, and what you can grow in your gardens to entice them into your backyards. We will also show you how you can set up your own mothing station at home or afield. 

Why Mothapalooza Light? Mothapalooza, once a large event that took place every summer at Shawnee State Park, was thought to be permanently retired a few years ago due to its increasing complexity. Some of its original founders teamed up with the Arc of Appalachia to hatch a plan to resurrect the event. Because the 2021 event was planned during the uncertainties of the COVID era, and because it is being offered for the first time at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, we decided that at least for this year we would organize a smaller event limited to 50 registrants, hence its name – Mothapalooza Light. Thus, if you really want to come, be sure to register asap. We expect this to quicky fill.

Relax and enjoy the show. Let nature take you where she wants you to go. We have never been disappointed when we have set up our mothing sheets at the Sanctuary. No two nights are ever the same and the biodiversity of moths at this preserve is splendid. It is safe to anticipate a weekend filled with considerable magic and discovery, as well as camaraderie.

Photo by Jim McCormac

The large and colorful silk moths that peak in mid-July are always the stars of the nocturnal show. Photo by Jim McCormac.

Photo by Jim McCormac

The Harris Three-Spot is one of the more intriguing species we may get to see during this event. Photo by Jim McCormac.

Photo by Artemis Eyster

Mothing at a Light Station. Photo by Artemis Eyster.

Photo by Artemis Eyster

Black Waved Flannel Moth. Photo by John Howard.