Bright Lights, No City

 

Io Moth at Swain Rd Citgo station.  Photo by Beth Johnson.

Io Moth at Swain Rd Citgo station. Photo by Beth Johnson.

It isn’t often my best lep locales are gas stations.

But … Last week ace bee guru Sam Droege mentioned on a local listserv that he’d stopped early one morning recently at the Citgo station at the High Germany Rd/Swain Rd exit on I-68 westbound just before you get to Green Ridge State Forest. Amazing moth concentrations, he said, had come in to the lights during the night. So I filed that away for future reference.

Happens that Beth Johnson and I were headed back late from a rather unexciting (lep speaking) foray to Garrett County on Sunday – mostly scouting the newly opened Cunningham Swamp WMA and some locations for an ANS trip I’m leading to Finzel and Cranesville in July – and ended up getting on the road back toward DC after dark. So when we saw the High Germany Rd exit and the Citgo sign gleaming above the interstate, how could we resist?

MUCH more interesting than our day in the field.

Almost immediately Beth had a fresh Io moth; I was distracted by the huge stoneflies. At least four species of Arctiid moths were at the lights, as were about that many species of mayflies. Beth’s next find was a Blinded Sphinx, and we spent about an hour poring over all manner of other critters attracted to the illumination. The staff of the Citgo store apparently are accustomed to the entomological traffic; they appeared unfazed by our poking behind ice machines and scrutinizing their front windows. Our last surprise of the night was a large, fresh Luna Moth on the pavement on the way to the car.

Absolutely worth a stop if you’re heading out I-68 after dark or coming home that way.

 

Luna Moth at Swain Road Citgo.  Photo by Beth Johnson

Luna Moth at Swain Road Citgo. Photo by Beth Johnson

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