Lynn Scott's  

Introducing Moths of the Ottawa Area

The moth photos displayed on this site represent a sample of moths observed at a single location, in a rural setting near the village of Dunrobin, part of the city of Ottawa, Canada's national capital (see map)

Soon after moving to the rural outskirts of Ottawa in 1984, my observation of a small pink and yellow moth that I had never seen before led to the acquisition of Covell's 1984 field guide to the moths of eastern North America. The moth turned out to be Schinia florida, hosted by the evening primroses that grow wild in our area. Even with a field guide, however, it was frustrating trying to look up moths in a field guide outdoors at night. Too often, the one that had sparked my interest flew away before I could find its picture in the book and, indeed, sometimes was gone before I had time to retrieve the field guide from my bookshelf.

Acquisition of a new digital camera (an Olympus D620L single-lens reflex with macro capabilities) in early 2000 was expected to lead me to a new interest in photography. This first phase of experimentation with macro photography, however, resulted in my first photos of live moths. My lepidopteran subjects rapidly superseded the photography as my primary objective, in keeping with my lifelong interest in the natural sciences.

This first digital SLR camera and its successors (the Olympus E-20 in 2003 and the Nikon D80 with Nikkor AF28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D IF lens in 2007) have allowed me to capture moths without having to maintain my own collection of pinned, spread specimens. What began as a means of seeing and identifying interesting moths has evolved into a modestly systematic one-location study of lepidopteran biodiversity.

This website was initiated in 2001 in response to the general inaccessibility of good illustrations of moth species, in print and on the Internet, with the encouragement of lepidopterist John A. Snyder of Furman University, professor of biology and longtime webmaster for the Lepidopterists' Society, who has invested much time and effort developing several very large Web resources to help people find images of the 12,000 or so North American moth species.

In my endeavors I have also been privileged to receive much encouragement and help from scientists at the Canadian National Collection (CNC) of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes, one of the best such collections in the world, located at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. I am particularly grateful to Dr. J. Donald Lafontaine, who was my initial contact at the CNC and facilitated access to the resources of the collection. I am also greatly indebted to his colleagues Dr. Jean-François Landry, Dr. P. T. Dang and Mr. James T. Troubridge for their assistance with difficult identifications.

It has also been a privilege and a pleasure to exchange information with Mr. Louis Handfield, whose mammoth compilation of illustrations and data for Quebec lepidoptera is unrivalled as a print resource for moth identification in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. He and the other lepidopterists, both amateur and professional, who stop by from time to time have provided many small lessons on the finer points of identifying and understanding the diversity of moths in my area.

While I have no formal qualifications in biology or entomology, digital macro photography of our local moths has been a tremendous learning experience, and I hope that this collection of moth images from my home in Dunrobin will provide others with some useful scientific information about the occurrence of different species, as well as an appreciation of the amazing beauty and intricate patterns of the moths that flutter around our lights.

All of the moths illustrated on this web site have been photographed live at the lights on my house; most are in their natural rest positions where they chose to land, but some have been caught in mid-flutter for a view of hindwings and body. A few specimens are captured, re-photographed to ensure a good representation for purposes of identification, and then released. Some specimens of scientific interest are also collected for the Canadian National Collection, particularly those requiring close examination or dissection to identify; many of these collected specimens have also been used in the on-going Barcode of Life DNA studies at the University of Guelph, through the participation of CNC scientists in that project.

Information on local habitat, methods of attracting and photographing moths, resources for identification, and other relevant topics can be found through the menu at the top of each page. To access the images, please click on Thumbnail Index or Systematic Index at the top and to the left of each page.

Page last modified 1 March 2008
Copyright © 2001-2012 D. Lynn Scott