Pre-Conference Field Trips

It has become a popular Mothapalooza tradition to offer several Pre-Conference trips to participants which take place on Friday afternoon. These tours are led by some of our finest guides and give participants an in-depth look into particularly interesting habitats.

We have six choices of trips for you, pre-conference on Friday. Trips begin at 1:00 PM and go until 5:00 PM. Light snacks & water are provided. Please bring a full water bottle with you as well. If you are interested, please indicate your choice of trip when registering.

The Pre-Conference trips are at an additional cost of $40.00 per person, and each one has limited space.


  1. July Jamboree in Shawnee State Forest – Field Trip Leaders: Jim McCormac, Doug Tallamy – SOLD OUT

Difficulty Level – Easy, van stops with short hikes; but must be able to get in and out of van

Transportation: Meet at Shawnee Lodge, van transportation provided.

Jim and Doug will lead participants into little known nooks and crannies of the 65,000 acre Shawnee State Forest. We’ll look for a wide variety of butterflies – Shawnee plays host to dozens of species – and various interesting day-flying moths. Special notice will be given to interesting plants, and we’ll keep a sharp eye out for caterpillars. No facet of natural history will be ignored. Bring a camera, as we’re sure to encounter lots of photogenic insects and other animals.

2. Feline Flora & Prickly Pears II: Exploring the Flora and Fauna of Lynx Prairie and Sandy Springs Cemetery! Field Trip Leaders: Jason Larson, Dan Hodges – SOLD OUT

Difficulty Level – Easy to Medium, in and out of vehicles, van stops with short hikes, some uneven trails

Transportation: Meet at Shawnee Lodge, van transportation provided

Join Jason & Dan in the exploration of two of Ohio’s most significant natural areas! Follow in the ecological footsteps of E. Lucy and Annette Braun, as we explore the incredible diversity of Lynx Prairie. The cedar barrens of this area are prairie-like in nature, with thin, shallow soils overlying dolomite, which allow for an abundance of native grasses and wildflowers. These specialized habitats are home to a large number of rare species of plants and animals, and Lynx Prairie is no exception.

We will be visiting the prairie during its mid-summer floral display and participants should be treated to many common, and equally beautiful, species such as Butterfly Weed, Rattlesnake Master and Whorled Milkweed. In addition, we should see many species of interesting insects, including lots of butterflies, feeding on the prairie vegetation.

After a suitable period of time admiring the prairie plants and butterflies, we will move on to Sandy Springs Cemetery. Adjacent to the Ohio River, this cemetery contains one of the best remaining examples of one of our rarest habitats, an Ohio River sand terrace. Many rare species of plants exist here, in this harsh and ever-changing habitat, including Prickly Pear Cactus, Blunt-leaved Milkweed, Dwarf Dandelion and Field Pansy. In addition, a multitude of highly specialized critters call this area home and we hope to find the likes of American Copper, Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Checkered White, Steel Blue Cricket Hunter, Festive Tiger Beetle, Velvet Ant, Stink Bug Hunter, Missouri Wolf Spider and Ant Lion.

3. Down by the River – Field Trip Leaders Rich McCarty, Kim Banks, Jason Dombroskie – SOLD OUT

Difficulty Level – Easy to Medium, in and out of vehicles, van stops with short hikes, some uneven trails

Transportation: Meet at Shawnee Lodge, van transportation provided

Join Rich, Jason & Kim as you explore just some of the 20,000 plus acres of the Edge. During this trip, you will hike off trail in some of the less traveled areas in the southern part of the Edge Preserve.  This trip will make a couple of stops that would include hiking to the Ohio River and exploring along the river’s edge.  You experience a mix of habitats including the woods, hiking near a tributary stream, and field edges. This will increase your chances of seeing a variety of flora and fauna. And Because you will be off trail, you will have the chance to encounter rare plants and animals not usually seen.

4. The Charles A Eulett Wilderness Preserve – Field Trip Leaders Robyn Wright Strauss, Marcy Shaffer – SOLD OUT

Difficulty Level: Moderate with rocky unimproved trail and several hills. Distance: 1.5 miles (the whole trail is 2.6, but we will not walk the whole loop)

Transportation: Meet at Shawnee Lodge, van transportation provided

The Wilderness Preserve is named for the early conservationist and high school teacher, Charles Eulett who frequented this area with E. Lucy Braun. This preserve is the gateway for many people’s introduction to The Edge as its highlights like dramatic dolostone cliffs, rare prairie openings and outstanding flora, typify the preserve as a whole. Rare ferns like resurrection, wall rue and limestone adder’s tongue will be a highlight along with outstanding cliffs graced with the uncommon northern white cedar. The rough trail follows several lovely streams and the wooded setting will afford the opportunity for fantastic caterpillar viewing.

5. Caterpillars, Critters, and Plants, Oh My! – Field Trip Leaders: Sam Jaffe , Colleen Sharkey, Laura Hughes – SOLD OUT

Difficulty: Easy, van stops and short hikes on trails

Transportation: Meet at Shawnee Lodge, van transportation provided

If you can’t get enough of the fuzzy and weird, join this fabulous team on a caterpillar hunt. With this fabulous team you will explore every leaf and branch to find interesting critters. With Sam’s enthusiasm and knowledge for all things caterpillar you will have a ton of fun learning interesting facts. With Colleen and Laura, you will get to explore the diversity that the Shawnee area has to offer.

6. Caterpillars under water and Dragons above! – SOLD OUT
Field Trip Leaders; Alma Solis, Dave McShaffrey, MaLisa Spring

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate, easy walks, some uneven terrain, walking in wet areas may be strenuous.

Meet at the Lodge; Van transporation provided

Join this terrific trio on a trip to Wolf Den Lake to explore aquatic caterpillars and dragonflies. Wolf Den is the perfect setting to look for aquatic caterpillars. When we have mothed here in the night, the lake is teaming with moths, mating and laying eggs. There is both stream and lake habitat to explore here. In addition, plenty of butterflies puddle along the parking areas, including Harvester butterflies. In the past we have seen, five linked skinks, Black Racers, Spicebush Swallowtails, Tortoiseshell beetles, and many other interesting critters. But with Alma Solis aboard to talk about the caterpillars and Dave and MaLisa to explore the dragonflies and damsels, you may never leave the lake edge! Bring your water shoes and a towel.