Virginia Artist Celebrates Moths

Oct 30, 2019

Experts estimate there are 60-million bird watchers in this country – many actively feeding our feathered friends, but a Virginia woman says we need to do more.  She’s doing her part by painting a favorite bird food – moths. 

Listen -- then scroll down to hear the full interview.

Moth painter Deborah Davis at her studio in North Garden.
Credit RadioIQ

Deborah Davis has loved moths since she was a kid, and after studying art in college, she decided to paint them – a move that has proven profitable.

“There are Facebook groups for moth-ers, and there’s a big moth community, and they do like my stuff which is wonderful," she explains, "but so many people have said that they’ve never noticed moths or been interested in moths, or they just weren’t aware of what they are and what they do.”

They actually do a lot.

“Many moths are pollinators," she says. "There are certain flowers or plants that are fragrant at night or open at night. ”

Which is why Davis calls moths“the night crew.” She laments the fact that so few people see these nocturnal cousins to butterflies. They are, she says, beautiful and essential to the nation’s birds.

"People feed birds, but seeds just don’t cut it when they’re raising a brood of babies.  They have to have insects, and the most nutritious, luscious, easy to get things are caterpillars.”

David photographs moths, then paints their portraits.

So on many nights, she leaves the lights on near a white sheet hung from her shed in the woods.  Early the next morning, she will put some into jars, place them in the refrigerator and – a few hours later – take the calm, colorful insects out to be photographed.  When they fly away, Davis gets to work at her easel.  

You can see more of her moths at our Charlottesville studio, 216 W. Water Street, when we celebrate First Friday.  The November 1 show runs from 5-7 p.m.   To learn more about Deborah Davis visit

Here's Sandy's full interview with the artist.