SEVEN BACKYARDS HOME NORTH AMERICA:   Santa Monica Mts.   Valyermo   Kansas   Oregon   Arizona   AUSTRALIA:  South Australia   Western Australia
Seven Backyards
Moths...Moths...Moths...and their Habitats...and other stuff....
Several Long-Term Backyard
Studies in the U.S. and Australia

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Summarizing How These Projects Evolved
The seven “vignettes” that follow discuss primarily the “moth/plant-related” pursuits of my lifetime, which have culminated in this presentation. Also included here is some input of a historical nature, involving four of these localities (see “HOME PAGE”), with photographs to document the rampant habitat-destruction (“improvement”) that has taken place since “development” reared its ugly head at these locations....I have been undertaking backyard moth studies for more than 6 decades (since “mid” childhood, in the late 1940's)—always focusing upon the immediate locality in which I was resident at the time. A lifelong interest in the native plant associations (identifying the local wild plants and often attempting to grow them), has constantly accompanied these studies of the local macro-moth faunas. These two parallel interests have complimented each other in a most rewarding way! I have been so fortunate as to experience the following seven diverse primary locations on two continents, as a resident moth collector and observer — each location also involving close residential contact with the surrounding native flora:

(1A-1C) 1938-1957: My first home was at 9601 Oak Pass Rd, on a north-south ridge at approx. 1,100 feet elevation, in the eastern SANTA MONICA MTS. of S. CALIFORNIA—up Benedict Canyon Rd., + 5 road-miles north of Sunset Blvd., BEVERLY HILLS, and about 9 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline. At that time, this low-mountainous habitat was densely covered with a rich and completely undisturbed native flora, comprising a complex 3-way blend of Coastal Sage Scrub + Chaparral + Southern Oak Woodland (after Munz 1974, p.4), closely surrounding our remote and secluded residence on all sides. I was immersed in this colorful and fragrant world from earliest childhood. We lived far up a narrow dirt fire-road (“unimproved ”, as it would be called today), which became almost impassable during wet weather in winter. Our vehicles sometimes became mired in the sticky, dark brown clay; to avoid that (seasonal) risk, we often had to walk to the house after heavy winter storms, leaving the car parked far down the road (in the vicinity of 9626). For kids, this was great fun Arachnis picta male ; for grocery-laden parents....less so! In the early 1940's, our's was the only house on upper Oak Pass Road. This area is now (60 years later) some of the most expensive real estate in Beverly Hills. [When my parents sold our 7 hilltop acres at 9601, in the late 1950's, the entire parcel went for about $50,000....No, not everyone growing up in Beverly Hills in those days was of millionaire stock!!] In the early 1940's, our (only) nearest neighbors (the Fribergs) were situated about 2 miles away to the NE, near the north end of Summitridge Rd., approaching its intersection with the Mulholland Highway. The entire story is told in “Growing Up Wild in Beverly Hills!

It was at 9601 Oak Pass that I came to know the wonders of “black lights” (ultraviolet or “uv.”; rendered as “BL. L.” on my earliest labels), which were first tried there in June of 1956, and have been in constant use ever since....This superior moth-attracting method was originally revealed in certain publications by Perry Glick of Texas (early to mid 1950's). Prior to that, moth collectors typically used portable lanterns, OR made do with ordinary white or clear blue incandescent bulbs, OR frequented pubs sporting Pabst Blue Ribbon (TM) beer signs, along highways in rural areas!....

My mentors, during this formative period, were Lloyd M. Martin (Los Angeles County Museum), John A. Comstock (1373 Crest Rd., Del Mar, CA), Chris Henne (Ave. X-8, south of Pearblossom, CA), Charlie Hill of Verdugo Hills, CA (see #6250, 8416, 8558, 10110 in the MONA Check List), Frank Sala of Burbank, CA (see MONA #'s 6961, 9858, 9859, 9860), Bill Hovanitz, Rudi Mattoni, Rick Fall (founder of BioQuip), and the writer/naturalist, Nelle Kennedy Stowell (then living at 122 N. Maple Dr., Beverly Hills); and later, Paul W. Colburn, early neighbor/biology teacher/botanist/mentor/dear friend, (see pdfs Lasca Leaves, pp1-11 and Lasca Leaves, pp12-18), who built the first home at 9626 Oak Pass Rd.

Dr. Leland R. (Lee) Brown, then of U.C.L.A., produced a set of 35 mm. color slides (never published), documenting about 100 of my earliest pinned Oak Pass moth specimens, using Kodachrome II (25 ASA), an Exakta camera, and black velvet for a background — all depicting specimens collected at 9601 Oak Pass, between 1955-1957. Those images can be seen under the heading, “ Back Porch Moth Collection”. Or, go to the historical sections of the text, under the heading “ Growing Up Wild in Beverly Hills!”, for additional details regarding the “original”habitat, and documentation of early residents along Oak Pass Road.

A 1965 paper of the Oak Pass moth study seems worthwhile to reproduce here, purely for its historical content — depicting a flora and fauna that are now altered (degraded/destroyed/a.k.a. “improved”) almost beyond recognition. Color slides of the ORIGINAL HABITAT, made throughout this locality during the mid 1950's to early 1960's, partially document what has been lost to so-called “development” in this sector of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains. This once-pristine locality is now almost completely packed with wall-to-wall mansions, squeezed onto tiny parcels of ridiculously overpriced land (each one reflexively striving to “out-do” the next). Most vestiges of the original habitat have been bulldozed into oblivion — long gone, and undoubtedly forgotten ...IT IS MY INTENT AT THIS WEBSITE TO REMEDY THE LATTER!!

This standard process of habitat-rape, degradation, and homogenization is euphemistically termed “development” in American double-speak (or, even more ludicrously, “progress”: progress toward WHAT??)....Both smog and crime were essentially unknown in this locality prior to the mid 1950's....We never had cause to lock our doors — home or cars. [see McF., 1947, 1965; Huffman, 1998.] See also McF. & Colburn, 1968, for a partial inventory documenting the “original” FLORA of this locality, as Chlorosea banksaria it once was all along N. Beverly Dr., Marion Way, Summitridge Rd., and Oak Pass Road (from its start at the lowest elevation, off Hutton Dr., to its easternmost end, far up into the hills at Summitridge, well beyond 9601). My purpose here is to provide a photographic record of exactly what has been erased. Anyone curious to see what this trashed and forgotten wonderland has been “replaced” with, need only visit Oak Pass Rd., Summitridge, or N. Beverly Dr. today....“When you've see one [subdivision or mansion] you've seen them all!” — Quote adapted from a recent president's most revealing “environmental” wisecrack, slightly altered here, in order to proffer for consideration a perfectly valid viewpoint that is rarely (if ever) expressed or acknowledged....

(2) 1957-1964: The next location, after leaving Oak Pass Rd.—I became a part-time resident at WHITE CLIFF RANCH and apple orchard, about 3 mi. SSW. of the VALYERMO Post Office (9 mi. S. of Pearblossom), on a north-facing desert slope of the SAN GABRIEL MTS. (at 4800 ft. elev.), in northern Los Angeles County, CALIFORNIA. Here, I was again immersed in a fascinating and mostly still-pristine habitat — the drier interior chaparral, blended at this higher semi-desert elevation, with oak/pinyon/juniper woodlands, dominated around and below our house by giant manzanitas (A. glauca), mingled with thickets of huge Fremontodendron shrubs (Sterculiaceae) and Quercus chrysolepis (golden oak). The western-most reaches of the MOJAVE DESERT spread out to all northern horizons just below, with Joshua Tree Woodland (see Munz, 1974, p.4) dominating many of these lower elevations. Numerous moths were studied, reared, and collected in this locality during the indicated 8-year period; some of these specimens were eventually donated to the Bauer & Buckett collection (Petaluma, CA), OR to the L.A. County Museum (see Donahue, 1972). [Click here to see habitat photos made south of Pearblossom during the late 1950's.] The most exciting moth“event” at this location was the discovery, on a gentle north-facing slope just to the west of our house, of a major colony of the elusive Saturnia albofasciata (Johnson, 1938), M.O.N.A. #7753; see also J.Res.Lep. 4(3): 173-184 (1965). More details are given under the Valyermo heading (2) [click here]. And, a new winter-flying “ rain beetle” (the large scarab, Pleocoma octopagina) was first discovered at White Cliff Ranch, floating in the open reservoir that served our orchard. [see Robertson, 1970].

Time, during this period, was divided between the Valyermo location (White Cliff Ranch), and another residence SE. of Victorville, CA., in the (then very small) town of APPLE VALLEY (residence located at 21682 Ramona Rd. at Navajo), where we were surrounded by a much less diverse (but nevertheless interesting) MOJAVE DESERT habitat, with joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) and undisturbed desert scrub on every side. “Development” has now aggressively metastasized throughout much of the Hesperia-Apple Valley-Victorville region. Nearly everything originally growing wild there has been (or will be) flattened, scraped away, burned, obliterated and/or paved over (i.e., homogenized....)—to be “replaced” with generic freeways, generic (wall-to-wall) suburbia, generic ornamental plants, generic water-squandering lawns, generic swimming pools, generic golf courses, generic fast-“food” troughs, generic malls, and generic video-game parlors....leading (OF COURSE!) to generic boredom, generic drug-addiction, generic crime, generic drive-by shootings, and all the other “ delightful” (generic!) by-products of affluenza, apathy, over-crowding, and (particularly) over-population. Oops, did I mention the “P-word”??! (Tsk-tsk-tsk....) I momentarily forgot that this topic is no longer “politically correct”, even to discuss — let alone considering any kind of effective action; it is now all about mere “band-aids” (and pretending as if the band-aids are, in fact, the “solutions”). A “shoot-the-messenger” mentality continues to prevail. ....For a concise depiction of this unending and tiresome phenomenon, see the Ostrich Cartoon (1978)—click here. [Good luck Planet Earth and Homo semi-sapiens]....

(3) Sep. 1957 - June 1961: While still enrolled (part-time) in the two above-described unique outdoor “schools” of the natural world, I was also partaking of the Establishment's notion of “higher” learning: Sep. 1957 - May 1958 at U.N.M. (Albuquerque, NM.); Sep.1958 - June 1961 at K.U. (Lawrence, KS.); Sep. 1961 - May 1963 at O.S.U. (Corvallis, OR.), where I majored in both botany and entomology. Dr. George W. Byers was my excellent advisor (and also an inspiring teacher) in the Entomology Dept. at K.U., but the teaching skills and infectious enthusiasm of plant geographer, Dr. A.W. Küchler (my all-time favorite university professor), very nearly derailed my entomology major there! Dr. R.L. McGregor provided a challenging introductory foray into plant systematics, which further fueled my interest in that field.....

Much of my time during the 3 years at K.U. was most rewardingly spent out in the woods(!), delving into the life histories of various moths then present on the K.U. NATURAL HISTORY RESERVATION, 7 mi. NE. of LAWRENCE, KANSAS—all of them “new” and exciting to a westerner! Many lectures (and quite a few labs.) were regularly ditched, in favor of what was (to me) a far more meaningful and compelling pursuit: real (i.e., living, not “virtual”) interaction and immersion, in this seductive remnant of “original” habitat — a unique locality where the (eastern) oak/hickory woodlands meet and blend with the prairie grasslands.... During this halcyon interlude, I also came to know the ecologist/herpetologist and (more important!) naturalist, Dr. Henry S. Fitch and his delightful family, as they were then the (lucky!) resident-caretakers at the K.U.N.H.R.. For 3 years (1959-61), and purely for the fun of it, I undertook a brief spring moth survey (“macros” only) at the N.H.R., using black lights (uv.) around the residence and out-buildings (results published: see McF. 1967). These specimens mostly ended up in the collections of the K.U. Entomology Dept. OR the Los Angeles County Museum (see Donahue, 1972).

(4) Sep. 1961-May 1963: While in dutiful pursuit of still more magical letters (the final stint, at O.S.U., Corvallis), I spent two most enjoyable and productive years as the resident-caretaker at Oak Creek Fisheries Lab., 5 mi. W. of CORVALLIS, OREGON, in McDONALD FOREST—situated in the midst of a rich and (mostly) undisturbed mixed forest habitat, typical of the interior coast range foothills in that part of western Oregon. There, I came to know the local autumn/winter/spring moth fauna intimately, during 6 months of intensive collecting (operating several uv. light stations around Oak Creek Lab), and by delving into many of the local macro-moth life histories throughout this period. This involved numerous rearings, from batches of eggs obtained in captivity, plus caterpillar-hunting and bush-beating in much of the surrounding habitat. All of these rearings were carried out inside the tiny (one-room!) caretaker's cottage at Oak Creek Lab, which served as a very compact office/lab./ kitchen/ bedroom!

This project evolved into my M.Sc. thesis at Oregon State University (see McFarland 1963 and 1975). Many previously unrecorded Oregon moth life histories were documented during this study. However, certain recent authors have chosen to “overlook” this work, pretending as if the time elapsed had somehow rendered the reported facts meaningless (??)....Behrensia conchiformis (noctuid) is one example; “unknown early stages”!!!—see the facts under Buckett (1964) and McF. (1963, 1975) - click here. [For an abridged summary of the rearing notes contained in the 1963 thesis, click here.] Preserved larvae, documenting most of those OREGON studies, were later donated to the Lepidoptera section of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (see Donahue, 1972), because that is where the rest of my earlier larval specimens had been donated. (It didn't make sense to split up the collection.)

I was helped extensively, with all of the Oregon moth determinations, by the western experts of that time, Bill Bauer and Steve Buckett (then of Petaluma, CA), and also by Carl Kirkwood of Summerland, CA (western geometrid specialist). My major advisors at O.S.U. were Dr. J.D. Lattin (entomology) and Dr. K.L. Chambers (botany)—both highly inspiring and entertaining teachers. Dr. E.J. Dornfeld (butterfly collector and then Head of the Zoology Dept.) was a frequent field companion, on daytime excursions around McDonald Forest. The most exciting diurnal encounters, near and to the west of Oak Creek Lab, were the “rediscovery” there (flying in May) of Annaphila casta Hy. Edw. (MONA 9865), and (flying in April) a new Annaphila sp., later described as A. macfarlandi Buckett & Bauer, 1964 (MONA 9867). See also J. Res. Lepid. 3(2): 95-101, and J. Res. Lepid. 4(3): 199-204.

The summer of 1963 was rewardingly spent as a volunteer at the Southwest Research Station (of the Amer. Mus. of Nat. Hist., N.Y.), near Portal, ARIZONA, during Vince Roth's first year there as director. The other four in the volunteer crew that summer were Connie (“C.C.”) Chesebrough, Julie Ellen Franklin, Doug Futuyma, and Dexter Oliver....This was my first experience of a typical summer rainy season (“mini-monsoon”) in southeastern Arizona; fifteen years later, in 1979, I finally returned for more! (See #7 on the HOME PAGE, and also below.)

(5) 1965-1971: In 1964, I applied for two positions in AUSTRALIA—one as assistant to Dr. J.S. Beard at King's Park & Botanic Garden (Perth, W.A.), and the other as Assistant Curator of Insects at the South Australian Museum of Natural History in ADELAIDE, S.A.. The latter became available first, so that decided my first six years in Australia....“Naphthalene-induced toxic hepatitis ” prematurely terminated that chapter in 1970! [click here for documentation of this episode] While occupying the Adelaide position, I became a fulltime resident in the small rural hill town (suburb) of BLACKWOOD, located about 8 mi. south of the Adelaide city center, in the foothills of the MT. LOFTY RANGE, at about 900 ft. elevation. Here, I immediately resumed my customary “backyard studies”, of the local macro-moth fauna, recording their seasons of flight and various other phenological details, along with extensive fieldwork (searching and bush-beating in all the nearby natural habitat remnants), which resulted in numerous rearings and life history studies (always the primary focus), plus extensive photographic documentation and the preservation of larval specimens throughout this period. The incredible AUSTRALIAN GEOMETRID MOTHS had now become my major focus (see McFarland 1988), although rearings were still being attempted in most of the other “macro” families as well, whenever opportunities were encountered.

The BLACKWOOD/BELAIR district was already much altered (double-speak : “improved”), having endured many decades of “development”, long before I arrived on the scene!....However, back in 1965, there still persisted a few really good remnant patches of the “original” flora and habitat, not far from my rental flat, which was located at 2 Gulfview Rd. (at the south end of Hannaford Rd.), then the home of Mrs. L. Henley (school teacher). This once-idyllic home and garden has now been completely obliterated by “Progress”—converted to a fat-food trough, I have been told....[click here for historic habitat photos and many descriptive details, depicting an earlier vision of Blackwood and environs, as it was in the 1960's]; see also McFarland 1979 and 1988, specifically the introductory pages of both publications, and the habitat photos (H-series) in the 1988 book (pp.26-44). Of the 72 life histories reported in this book, 38 came straight out of Mrs. Henley's backyard, at 2 Gulfview Rd., Blackwood! And most of the 1300 life history photos were made on one end of her dining-room table, using a 1965 Topcon RE Super (SLR camera), along with various home-made backgrounds and other props! NO TRIPOD WAS EVER USED. For additional photographic details, see pp.369-370 in the 1988 book [click here].

A few remnant copies of the 1988 book, Portraits of South Australian Geometrid Moths [ISBN: 0-935868-32-1], are still available directly from the author in Arizona (P.O. Box 277, Hereford, AZ. 85615). Buy half the book (pp. 1-200) for ONLY (US.) $85.00 (postpaid)—and get the other half ABSOLUTELY FREE!!! To confirm availability, send email to noel (AT) (Don't hold your breath awaiting a reply; if wanting ANY reply at all, be sure to include your phone number!) Your order will be shipped in 100% fat-free packaging! Other copies may (?) also still be available through the A.N.I.C. Bookstore (Entomology Dept., C.S.I.R.O.) in CANBERRA, A.C.T., AUSTRALIA, or from Andrew Isles (book seller) of MELBOURNE.

(6A-6B) 1972-1978: During this 7-year period, I was so fortunate as to be a fulltime resident in a unique coastal sandhill habitat, 7 miles north of GERALDTON, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (about 315 mi. N. of Perth), where we leased the small house on Lot 68 Seacrest Way, Drummond Cove — Geraldton suburb, then a tiny (one-street) beach community on the Indian Ocean. Here, we started a nursery business, growing and selling various genera of bizarre South African succulent plants (Conophytum spp., Lithops, etc.), while specializing in the incredible miniature asclepiads (such as Caralluma, Huernia, Stapelia, and all of the other related smaller genera). The latter were propagated by cuttings from an imported series of amazing collections (complete with explicit locality data), sent to me by D.C.H. Plowes, then of Umtali, Rhodesia (1973-74). Later, numerous cuttings from all of those imports were widely dispersed, to various other succulent growers across Australia, including a complete representative collection (of the locality-documented “D.P.” stapeliad material), which was sent to J. Wrigley at the National Botanical Gardens in Canberra. [click here to see color photos of some of these (propagated) D.P. stapeliads, growing outdoors at Drummond Cove. They grew extremely well in the Geraldton climate.]....I wonder if this irreplaceable (locality-documented) collection of unique plants is still being maintained in the National Collection at Canberra??? For anyone having stapeliads carrying the associated 4-digit DP-numbers, but missing the relevant locality information, I can provide the full details for your “DP-numbers”, IF they date back to my original stapeliad imports into W.A. during the 1970's. [click to here view the lists]

Various South African Aloe spp. were also grown at Drummond Cove (from seeds). About a dozen were of A. dichotoma (the “kokerboom”), germinated in May 1974. Click here for recent photos of these same plants 30 years later, still growing in the ground where I originally planted them, on our former Lot 351 Wannerenooka Rd., Northampton (north of Geraldton), in sunny openings of the “jam tree” woodland (Acacia acuminata) which dominates the habitat. On this parcel, the exposure was primarily a rocky hill sloping to the west. Reddish-brown clay/loam, mixed with decomposed granite, was the predominant soil type here. Other small seedlings of A. dichotoma also went to two other homes in Northampton, and to one in Tarcoola (south Geraldton suburb).

Moth studies were much curtailed during the Geraldton years, due to the extensive succulent growing efforts. Nevertheless, quite a number of interesting local insects (of various Orders) were collected in and around Geraldton, Drummond Cove, Howatharra, Northampton, and Kalbarri. Most of these ended up in CANBERRA (at the A.N.I.C.), or in the entomological collection of the W.A. Dept. of Agric. (South Perth). And, an intensive 3-year study, of a spectacular local spoonwinged nemopterid population (Order Neuroptera: Chasmoptera sp.), was also undertaken. There was a thriving population of these bizarre diurnal neuropterans, in the sandhills immediately to the west and southwest of our Drummond Cove cottage. Many hours were spent observing them and recording all of the details in a notebook. These pages of notes are being reproduced in their entirety at this website. [click here for pdf.]

Several years of observations (between 1968-1978), documenting the life history (and various phenological details) of the spectacular SW. Australian endemic BOMBYCOID MOTH, Carthaea saturnioides (Fam. Carthaeidae), will also be presented on this website [click here]. These records may now be partially historical, as at least some of the named southern localities have probably been erased by so-called “development” during the intervening decades(?)....See also the recent review of the Family CARTHAEIDAE by J.B. Heppner (2006), in Lepid. Cat. (New Series), Fasc. 106, pp.v-viii + 1-8. [click here for pdf.]

(6C) 1973-1975: A most rewarding outcome, during the 7 years of residence near GERALDTON, was our private purchase (in 1974) of 106 acres of two unique and mostly undisturbed remnant parcels of the original heath-scrub habitat at Howatharra, in the Moresby Ranges, about 19 miles NNE. of Geraldton. This later evolved into a completely fenced private sanctuary, which we then named “HOWATHARRA HILL RESERVE”. Elevations at this site range from + 600 to 700 feet in the higher areas, down to + 400 to 500 feet in the low-lying sections. The reserve is located in the flat-topped hills along the Howatharra-Nanson Rd., about 6 mi. inland (east) from the Indian Ocean coastline at Coronation Beach. It is now owned and managed by the W.A. Dept. of Conservation & Land Management (“C.A.L.M.”), where it has been officially designated as their “Class A Reserve No. 40587". The negotiations for this transition (from private ownership to govt.) were undertaken on our behalf by Dr. A.A. Burbidge, in 1987-88. [See the W. Aust. magazine,“Landscope”, Vol.4(2): 43-46, Summer of 1988, under “Moresby Range” (pp.45-46).] See also a small 32-page (9.5 x 22 cm.) golden-brown booklet, introducing this unique remnant of the Geraldton region's rich floral heritage: “Howatharra Hill Reserve in Western Australia” (printed for us in 1977 by Geraldton Newspapers). A few copies are still available @ $8.00/ea directly from the author, at P.O. Box 277, Hereford, AZ 85615. To confirm availability, send email to noel (AT) (Don't hold your breath awaiting a reply; if wanting ANY reply at all, be sure to include your phone number!)

This booklet presents a brief overview of the diverse native flora and fauna now permanently protected within the boundaries of the reserve. [Click here to see a reproduction of the full text of the original booklet, OR selected color photos of the Howatharra flora and habitat.] Over most of the reserve, numerous spp. of small to large woody, evergreen sclerophyll shrubs form a dense, blanket-like cover (with variable openings here and there), which looks (when viewed from a distance) startlingly like certain coastal chaparral formations of southern California (particularly in San Diego Co.), but entirely different plants are involved, of course — a textbook example of botanical convergence on every side! Many of the plants protected here are endemic to this region of Western Australia—a state widely known for its stunning floristic diversity and endemism (amounting to about 85% at the species-level).

Our “Howatharra Hill” project was (potentially) prime real estate at the time (complete with hilltop ocean views, etc., etc.). A local real estate “developer” came sniffing and drooling around, soon after we had completed our formal purchase of the parcel, but it was by then too late for him to bulldoze his way to Big Profits (we got there first!!) — a most heart-warming conservation outcome, for once! CONSEQUENTLY, you can go there today and see almost exactly what I first saw (and fell in love with) 4 decades ago, in October of 1968....This is a story with a completely happy ending: a virgin remnant of the Geraldton region's unique and fast-vanishing native botanical treasure secured, and now permanently protected by “Class A Reserve” status at HOWATHARRA HILL!....And, since our sale of the original (106 ac.) parcel to C.A.L.M., Mr. Cliff Royce (Howatharra farmer and nearest neighbor) contributed an additional 490 acres of his own land to our former reserve, immensely enhancing its chances for longterm viability. This was done as a memorial to his wife, who deeply loved the native flora of the district....[see also the Howatharra booklet, p.9, 4th paragraph]

(7) 1979-2008: After 41 years of highly rewarding “backyard mothing adventures”, in six other locations on the planet, I finally returned to a locality that I had long held in memory (due to intriguing earlier visits to this region with my father, in 1949 and 1950)—the SW. corner of COCHISE COUNTY, in the SE. corner of ARIZONA. In January of 1979, we settled into a “Moth-er's Paradise” here on 5 acres (purchased in 1980), in the SE. foothills of the HUACHUCA MTS., at 5354 Ash Canyon Rd., to begin what would turn out to be my longest continuous stay in any single locality to date (30 consecutive years resident here, as of Dec. 2008). My lifelong natural inclinations, to collect and study the local (macro) moth fauna, immediately re-surfaced here in 1/79, leading finally to this website presentation of ASH CANYON MOTHS 3 decades later.

The Family Noctuidae and their kin (i.e., includes six other related noctuoid families) dominate the macro-moth fauna in this part of southern Arizona, totaling close to 500 spp. documented from our 5 acres in Ash Canyon (Backyard No. 7), or more than half of all the “macro” species listed for this location! The G.P.S. co-ordinates for our land are centered on 31° 23.17' N. and 110° 14.28' W, at the driveway entry, and the elevation here is 1575 meters or approx. 5,170 feet (C.D. Ferris readings). All of my earlier printed labels state “5,100 feet elevation ”, but it's actually closer to 5,200 ft.— take your pick! (I shall not be re-writing the old labels anytime soon!)
Seven Backyards



Moths and Memories


Where Are the Specimens Now?


Background and Introduction


About The Backyard Concept

Motivations: Why Publish This Material?

Summarizing How These Projects Evolved

About the Photographs

Bias in Photo Representation

Moth Identifications

Taxonomy & Classification (the names)

About Moth Families & Subfamilies

Some Thoughts About Moth Surveys

Abundance Ratings Defined (8 Categories)

About the Flight Periods

Interpretation of the Flight-Phenograms

Miscellaneous Comments on Black Lights

Peculiarities of Moth Activity

Prime Time = Full-Moon-Plus-Ten

How To Obtain Perfect (Moth) Specimens

To Kill Or Not To Kill??

Beating or Sweeping for Larvae


Miscellaneous Tidbits Dept.