Moth Week Takes Wing
KEEP THOSE PORCH LIGHTS BURNING!
National Moth Week is July 20 to 28, and
it promises to be a fluttering good time.
It’s no surprise this burgeoning cel-
ebration of the mysterious creatures of
the Lepidoptera order started in East
Brunswick. The critter-friendly town
shuts down a stretch of road each year
for the spotted salamander migration
and manages its own 11-acre butterfly
park. It is also home to a group of scien-
tists and wildlife enthusiasts, the Friends
of the East Brunswick Environmental
Commission, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to bringing environmental
programming to the community.
Two of the organization’s members,
David Moskowitz, a wildlife studies specialist and PhD student in entomology at
Rutgers University, and Liti Haramaty, a
researcher at the Institute of Marine and
Coastal Science at Rutgers, started hosting local moth nights at the butterfly park
in 2006. “We were astonished at the first
moth night, how successful it was,” says
Moskowitz. They used a generator to
power a 175-watt mercury vapor light bulb
to attract the moths and tied a bedsheet
between two trees for their landing. “
People who had never experienced moths
NIGHTLIFE: National Moth Week celebrates the mysterious creatures of
the night, like this luna moth. Below, the Friends of the East Brunswick
Environmental Commission started hosting moth nights in 2006.
were wowed,” he says.
The moth nights have evolved
into National Moth Week, which is
meant to raise awareness about the un-derappreciated cousins of the butterfly.
Scientists don’t know as much about moth
natural history, distribution, seasonality
and species. That’s where citizen scientists
can come in. Anyone with a porch light and
a camera can participate and submit what
they see to one of the many international
organizations with which the Friends
have partnered to collect data. “Every data
point, every observation can be very important,” says Haramaty.
It is known that in New Jersey there
are more than 3,000 species of moths, and
they range in size from a pinhead to an
adult hand and come in every conceivable
color and shape, says Moskowitz. “They
are amazingly diverse,” he says. ■
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