insects

Bats & Moths & Synchronous Fireflies!

Bats Moths & Fireflies CFC 2020

UPDATE:  Please bear with us 🙂 – the event is now limited to 25 attendees, per PA guidelines on COVID-19 – – RSVP is req’d via 814-744-8407 or cookforestsp@pa.gov, & please bring your masks & respect social distancing ** Please DISREGARD Facebook attendance indicators, as we’re not using that system **
Our apologies, but as this is the first event in the park following its reopening, and as several state entities are cooperating in its production, we just got the word that we need to collect registrations for the event. We appreciate your understanding!

Wielding microphones and sheets and wearing headlamps, bat biologist Amber Nolder and entomologist Tim Tomon will survey bats and moths, educating onlookers as they monitor this aspect of forest health. We’ll begin with some presentations, move into the field, and learn about these important Cook Forest residents.  Here’s a recap & gallery from last year’s stellar bat & moth event – but, this year, it’s

Bats & Moths – and then Synchronous Fireflies!

Our annual program has happily added a (hopeful) appearance by the rare and elusive synchronous fireflies!  Once the Photinus carolinus & friends have emerged (probably around 10 pm), we’ll walk up nearby Tom’s Run Road a short distance into the darkness, and enjoy their silent light show. Allegheny National Forest & Cook Forest State Park are among the only places to see these little fellows in America – they’re so famous in the Smoky Mountains there’s a lottery to see them!

Since the primary threats to fireflies are habitat loss and light pollution, the “lightning bug” portion of the program will be pitch black, so they can communicate.  The dirt road is somewhat uneven – if you have a headlamp or flashlight with a red lamp function, please bring it along for the trek in toward the firefly swamp.

Friday, 19 June 2020 – 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm >>
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We’ll be at Shelter #2 off Forest Road in Cook Forest, approx. coordinates: 41.346609, -79.218915, and the google maps code is 8QWJ+JC Cooksburg, Pennsylvania.

This event is free – no registration required. Please bring a coronavirus mask, a light (headlamps with a red or green night-vision filter are best) and a refillable water bottle – we’ll have bat & moth eyemasks for the kids to color.  NB re CORONAVIRUS: By attending, participants assume responsibility for any and all risk due to possible exposure to COVID-19. Please DO NOT attend if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 2 weeks.

This annual event is a collaboration of the Cook Forest Conservancy, the PA Game Commission, the PA Bureau of Forestry, and the DCNR of Cook Forest State Park

Bats & Moths 2019 Recap

Bats & Moths 2019 - Recap

The turnout at Tom’s Run – seventy people and six bats – is a happy increase over last year for both groups, and it’s important to track bat densities to determine whether they’re rebounding following the decimation caused by White Nose Syndrome.  PA Game Commission scientist Amber Nolder said that, “after the devastating losses due to white-nose, there does seem to be some stabilization of affected bat populations. However, it could take over 100 years for complete population recovery (assuming enough bats can continue to survive white-nose and other threats), because of the low reproductive rate of most of these cave hibernating species, which have only one pup per year.

Moths, which, along with butterflies, make up one of the most diverse orders of insects, also are a large proportion of the diet of birds and bats.  Tim Tomon, scientist with the Bureau of Forestry, noted that they can also be useful indicators of plant presence.

You can help bat & moth populations at home:

View the entire photo gallery here – and please join us next year, as we’re planning to make Bats & Moths night an annual event! 

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth

small-eyed sphinx moth - paonias myops

The small-eyed sphinx moth is “especially nocturnal” and prefers birches, poplars, hawthorns, and willow trees. And white sheets.  

And also cherry, serviceberry, and grapes, according to insectidentification.org, which names this fellow a member of the Hawk Moth category.  Moths are important pollinators, and are under threat from habitat loss – especially the decline of native plant species – and increasing light pollution

Learn more about these moths, present from April through October, at bugguide.net.  Even more info available at butterfliesandmoths.org – learn about all the Lepidoptera! 

  • Order – Butterflies / Moths – Lepidoptera
  • Family – Sphinx Moths – Sphingidae
  • Species – Small-eyed Sphinx Moth – Paonias myops

This fellow was spotted at the 2019 CFC Bats & Moths spectacular, along Tom’s Run at CCC shelter #2, in Cook Forest State Park.  

Bats & Moths of Cook Forest

Bats & Moths of Cook Forest

Please meet at twilight (8:30) at Shelter #2 to help bat biologist Amber Nolder and insect specialist Tim Tomon during an evening survey of bats and moths along the picturesque Tom’s Run valley. Following an educational presentation, we’ll be catching bats and moths in nets for research purposes.

Bring your flashlights – there will be supplies to make a custom, removable red-light filter, so you can see better at night and disturb wildlife less. We’ll also have bat-mask coloring for the kids. 

This event is FREE and open to all – donations will support the CFC and the installation of bat boxes in Cook Forest State Park.

Much thanks to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and DCNR Bureau of Forestry and their scientists, and to the management and rangers of Cook Forest State Park for their accommodation and support!

>> 8:30 – 10:30 pm, Tuesday, 2 July 2019, at Pavilion #2 in beautiful Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania.  Approx. GPS coordinates = 41°20’50.0″N  79°13’11.2″W — follow Forest Road to near Breezemont – Shelter #2 is across from the Log Cabin