Second Annual Long Island Natural History Conference



The Moths of Long Island
Hugh McGuinness

ABSTRACT:  Long Island has an abundant native fauna of Lepidoptera. Although a checklist has never been undertaken for the area, there are at least 1500 species, and perhaps as many as 2000, on LI. There has been relatively little moth collecting done on LI, which is surprising given the large number of rare species listed by the New York Natural Heritage Program that are know to occur here. In 2002 I began photographing and collecting moths on the East End. Much of my work has focused on three major projects: searching for moths on New York’s rarity list in order to determine their status; using moths as indicator species for the purpose of managing habitat; elucidating the range of moths on LI. These efforts have yielded nearly 20,000 specimens and a list of over 1000 species. In this talk, I will give an overview of Lepidopteran biodiversity, explain how moths can be useful as management tools, dispel some pernicious myths about moths, and discuss the joy of mothing.

Hugh McGuinness is an entomologist who has been working to document the Long Island moth fauna since 2002. He received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan in 1987. A former member of the faculty at Southampton College, he spent 15 years working at the Ross School in East Hampton. Since 2004 he has received numerous contracts from The Nature Conservancy and the New York State Museum to document the moths of Long Island. Currently he lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children, after living in Sag Harbor for 16 years. He works at Maret School and volunteers as a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.