National Moth Week Coming To Carlsbad Caverns...Seriously

Jul 19, 2013

Carlsbad Caverns National Park will host Eric Metzler for a moth sheeting demonstration on Friday, July 26. / Photo courtesy of National Moth Week

  CARLSBAD – On the evening of July 26, 2013, moth expert Eric Metzler will demonstrate the diversity of moth species in Carlsbad Caverns National Park using two simple tools—a bright light and a white sheet. The demonstration will begin outside the Carlsbad Caverns visitor center at approximately 8:45 p.m., after the Bat Flight program, and will end at 10:30 p.m. Visitors are welcomed to discover the flying insects that are drawn out of the desert darkness on this night. There is no cost for this event.

Moths are essential to the desert ecosystem and an important food source for the bats of Carlsbad Caverns. Some studies have documented that moths make up almost half of the diets of Brazilian free-tailed bats, one of the most common bat species in the park.

The Chihuahuan Desert ecosystems in Carlsbad Caverns National Park are home to a remarkable diversity of moth species, many of which have not yet been studied by scientists. Recently, Metzler discovered four previously unidentified moth species at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, including three—Elasmia cave, Ogdoconta satana, and Cochylis yinyangana—that are endemic to the Chihuahuan Desert.

The moth sheeting demonstration is part of National Moth Week, an international citizen science effort to bring attention to the ecological importance and the biodiversity of moths. This year National Moth Week is July 20 through 28. More information on National Moth Week can be found at

Metzler, who lives in Alamogordo, New Mexico, served as an administrator with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for 31 years and has published more than 50 scientific papers on Lepidoptera, the order of insects that includes moths and butterflies. In Ohio, he described 19 species of moths new to science. More recently, at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, he has discovered more than 25 species of moths never before identified by scientists. Metzler is now retired and spends his time collecting and identifying moths throughout New Mexico.