Lloyd Center Moth Sampling at Rhode Island Restoration Sites Completed

On the evening of September 14, the sun was setting both at Nicolas Farm Wildlife Management Area in Greene, RI, and on the sampling season for a project covering multiple sites under habitat restoration regimes; a slight haze visible on the horizon. This was likely the same haze caused in 2021 by the California wildfires, just another reminder of far reaching human impacts on the landscape, and the dire need to protect and restore wildlife habitats. This project ultimately aims to create early successional habitats, with this two-season study an assessment of any changes to moth diversity during the regeneration process in restoration areas.

The focus areas in Rhode Island include Pratt Conservation Area (part of Arcadia Management Area) in Exeter, and Nicolas Farm Wildlife Management Area in Greene, both areas formerly farmland that became reforested over time. The trap location at Pratt was on a small wooded slope mostly surrounded by downed trees and initially sparse vegetation in vicinity of the trap site. At Nicolas Farm two traps were set, one in a highly vegetated section rich with blueberry, oaks, pine and other species, the other just across the road in a more recently cut location surrounded by deer fencing to prevent browsing initial vegetation, and also sparsely vegetated.


Birds were abundant at both sites over the two seasons, highlights at Pratt including Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Prairie Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, and Great Blue Heron. At Nicolas Farm encounters (seen or heard) included Whippoorwill, Pileated Woodpecker, House Wren, Wood Thrush, Veery, Ovenbird, Eastern Bluebird, and Cedar Waxwing.

At Pratt we can report Clouded Sulfur, a Swallowtail species, Monarchs, and swarms of dragonflies at a small cattail wetland. At Nicolas Farm wood nymphs were seen, and deer were encountered near one trap location, which depicts why a “deer fence” was installed to prevent browsing of regeneration.

New vegetation common to disturbed areas and clearings has taken hold including Whorled Loosestrife at Pratt, and the less recently-cut site at Nicolas Farm, and oak seedlings in the more recently-cut plot at Nicolas Farm. American Burnweed has also emerged at both locations each September, including a vast stand at Nicolas Farm in the recently-cut plot. These signs of progress indicate potential for improved moth diversity, as just one measure of overall wildlife value these restoration areas have.

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive summary including the moth data in the fall!

by Jamie Bogart, Lloyd Center Research Associate