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‘Moth-ers’ ‘shine a light on’ 10th observance of moths in their local habitats

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National Moth Week (NMW) is marking its 10th year July 17-25 with a call to young people around the world to learn about and observe moths in their local habitats.

Each year since 2012, NMW has shone a light on often unheralded moths, calling attention to their beauty, extraordinary diversity and essential role in the natural world as pollinators and a food source for other creatures, according to information provided by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, which founded the event a decade ago.

As a worldwide citizen science project, NMW encourages “moth-ers” of all ages and abilities to turn on a light wherever they are and observe and document what they see through photography and data collection.

Finding day-flying moths and moth caterpillars can be done in daylight.

Individuals and organizations are invited to register private and public mothing and educational events for free on the NMW website.

Due to the pandemic, participants are advised to follow health guidelines and regulations for gatherings in their area.

Participants receive a certificate designed by NMW team member and graphic artist Belen Mena.

This year, the NMW team is encouraging children and teens to discover and learn about moths in their own backyards and communities, or even while away on vacation. Kid-friendly content and tips for beginners, from book lists to light setups and “moth bait” recipes are featured on the NMW website.

“Observing moths is as easy as turning on a porch light and seeing what’s flying,” said Jacob Gorneau, who became the youngest member of the NMW team when he was 15 and is now a graduate student in entomology.

“Because they are so diverse, moths are a great starter insect for kids, who will never tire of the amazing shapes, colors, and sizes that exist. An interest in moths instills a greater appreciation for the natural world and why we need to preserve it. Wherever you may be with your child, even checking out brightly lit places at night or early morning where lights were on all night, you are sure to see some moths.

“Lastly, get outside. Some of my most memorable experiences finding moths were the ones I found serendipitously, without searching. You may soon be known as the local moth person and people will start bringing moths to you,” Gorneau said in the statement.

NMW participants are invited to contribute their photos and data to NMW partner websites, as well as the NMW Flickr group, which now has over 100,000 moth photos from around the world.

“Documenting the numbers and locations where moth species are flying can help scientists determine what impacts, if any, climate change, pollution and other threats are having on native populations,” Liti Haramaty, who co-founded NMW with David Moskowitz, said in the statement.

Since 2012, NMW has inspired thousands of public and private moth-watching and educational events in over 80 countries and all 50 U.S. states, according to the statement. Sites have included National Parks and Monuments, museums and local recreation areas, private backyards and front porches – wherever there’s a light and a place for them to land.

For more information about National Moth Week, visit nationalmothweek.org, or write to info@nationalmothweek.org

Also, find National Moth Week on Facebook, Twitter (@moth_week) and Instagram (mothweek). Hashtags: #Nationalmothweek #mothweek

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National Moth Week Facts

  • National Moth Week was founded in 2012 by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (EBEC), a nonprofit, 501c3 organization.
  • It is a worldwide citizen science project that invites people of all ages and abilities to “shine a light” on nighttime nature and observe and document moths in their native habitats.
  • National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, biodiversity and ecological importance of moths, which serve as important pollinators for crops and flowers and a food source for birds and other animals.
  • National Moth Week is held annually during the last full week and two weekends of July. It grew out of local summer moth nights organized by the Friends of the EBEC in township parks.
  • The first National Moth Week quickly attracted participants around the U.S. and the world. To date, National Moth Week has been observed in all 50 US states and Guam and Puerto Rico, and over 90 countries around the world. Thousands of public and private mothing and educational events have been registered during the past 10 years with National Moth Week.
  • National Moth Week has inspired people around the world to upload hundreds of thousands of moth photos and data to environmental websites such as iNaturalist and Project Noah. This information can be used by scientists to identify and study moth distribution and populations.
  • Venues for National Moth Week events have included U.S. National Parks and Monuments; state, county and local parks around the U.S. and world; museums, nature centers, college campuses, libraries and summer camps.
  • Events have ranged from backyard moth nights to “moth balls” and overnight campouts featuring music and food.
  • National Moth Week is coordinated by the Friends of the EBEC with the assistance of a team of entomologists, researchers, educators and graduate students based around the world. National Moth Week also has a network of country coordinators worldwide; a science advisory board of entomologists, educators and researchers, and partnerships with environmental and educational  organizations and web-based nature databases.
  • National Moth Week is run entirely by volunteers.
  • The website, nationalmothweek.org, offers information and instructional videos for studying and documenting moths.
  • National Moth Week has received extensive exposure in the science and mainstream media. In 2021, National Moth Week was cited in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as an “[example] of ways professionals and amateurs can observe, learn, and contribute to insect conservation.”
  • This information was provided by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission.

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Why Study Moths?

  • Part of the Lepidoptera order of insects, moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
  • Moths are important pollinators for crops and flowers, and serve as a food source for birds, bats and other animals.
  • Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to as many as 500,000 moth species.
  • Their colors and patterns are either dazzling or so cryptic that they define camouflage. Shapes and sizes span the gamut from as small as a pinhead to as large as an adult’s hand.
  • Most moths are nocturnal, and need to be sought at night to be seen – others fly like butterflies during the day.
  • Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.
  • This information was provided by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission.
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