• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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Southern New Mexico Parks Featured in Moth Study

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Date: December 5, 2007
Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024

Moths may be largely overlooked by our day-oriented society, but here at Carlsbad Caverns National Park we have a special affinity for night flyers. Our bats are very special, and the animals that feed them (mostly moths and beetles) are important, too.

At 7 p.m., on Thursday, December 13, lepidopterist Eric Metzler will present “Moth Studies in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico” at the Chihuahuan Desert Conservation Alliance meeting at NMSU-Carlsbad. Based on a presentation he made in July at the Lepidopterists’ Society conference, the program will cover his studies of the habitats of southern New Mexico as well as the diversity of moths. He may also discuss his recent visit to the Smithsonian, where he combed through their collection to determine if what he has found here are new species.

An inductee to the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame for his efforts in promoting insects as a natural resource, Metzler has published 41 scientific papers on Lepidoptera (the order of butterflies and moths), and he has described nine species of moths (so far) that are new to science. He is adjunct curator of entomology for Michigan State University. His most recent book (2005) was a study of butterflies and moths of the northern tall grass prairies—the first-ever study of insects there.

Metzler has now undertaken a long-term study of the moths of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a long-term study of the moths of White Sands National Monument, and similar study of the moths at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. Although the studies are in their infancies, he has already discovered several species of moths that are new to science, in these three parks.

Originally from Michigan, Metzler started studying insects when he was ‘knee high to a grasshopper,’ and he never stopped. He received a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Resources and a minor in Entomology at Michigan State University. He spent an enjoyable career with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and retired as Acting Chief of the Division of Watercraft. When Metzler retired, he was named Ambassador of Natural Resources by Ohio Governor George Voinovich, and was able to intensify his study of butterflies and moths bringing his skills to southern New Mexico.

Did You Know?

Ice-age sloth

Bones from ice age animals like jaguars, camels, lions and giant sloths have been found in the entrance areas of some caves in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.