Moths of Peoria County

By: Frank Hitchell

This listing of moths and the accompanying photo gallery represents about 26 years of insect collecting and study around central Illinois. I started my collection after my daughter and I would go out and catch butterflies, bring them home, identify them, and then release them. As I read more about their natural histories, I noticed that they had short lives on average. So we started a collection of a few larger species of butterflies and then branched out to include  moths. Once I bought better books on moths of the eastern U.S., I was driven to find out how many species lived in just Peoria County. Of the over 1100 species of moths and butterflies from this area, about 90% of those were found in my yard (2/3 acre). I have fruit trees, a butterfly garden, a collection light at the edge of the woods, and I am surrounded by a large area of river bluff woods. I also collect from some prairie plantings, Illinois River wet areas, and other woods to better represent what can be found in Peoria County. I have very little formal education in entomology and also lack proper reference materials for positive identifications. However, with the help of others in the Peoria Academy of Science Entomology Section, friends like Jim Wiker and Terry Harrison, and websites like Moths Photographer’s Group, I have a pretty good idea of local species of moths. The photos in the gallery were all taken with a Celestron Digital Microscope instead of a camera. The poor condition of some specimens results from either my poor pinning skills or the fact that I have only one specimen in over 100 species. So even though I lack most of the tools that a professional entomologist would possess, this listing represents the work of an amateur and what I found living in the natural world around me.