EAST BRUNSWICK – The “moth-ers” are gearing up for National Moth Week.
The public is invited to attend Moth Night at Community Park off Dunham’s Corner Road at 8:30 p.m. July 23. The free event will allow visitors of all ages to observe moths and caterpillars in their natural environment.
Created by the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (EBEC) in 2012, the event has transformed into a collaborative project that crosses national and international borders.
According to Sandy Lanman, a team member for National Moth Week, the project is coordinated by volunteers and was created to honor the diversity of moths. An EBEC press release described moths as “important pollinators for crops and flowers, and serve as a food source for birds, bats and other animals.” Thus, the initiative quickly garnered interest as it educated residents on the life cycle and importance of different moth species.
“National Moth Week is a project of the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission and is coordinated by a team of volunteers around the world whose expertise ranges from entomology and biology to art and communications.
“All share a desire to celebrate moths’ beauty, diversity and important role in the environment and to engage new audiences in appreciating and observing them,” Lanman said, adding all 50 states and over 90 countries have hosted thousands of moth-watching and educational events at national parks, museums, recreational areas and backyards.
In addition, the connectivity of social media allowed people, regardless of their geographical location, to share their photos and experiences with other “moth-ers.” On its Flickr page, the project features over 100,000 photographs of various moth species.
The visual documentation that occurs during National Moth Week also aides in the study and identification of moths and wildlife.
“What began as a plan for a statewide moth night evolved into a national week and quickly became an international citizen science project that invited organizations and individuals to register their events for free,” Lanman said. “Participants were encouraged to post photos and observations on partner websites dedicated to moth and wildlife identification and study.
“In addition, National Moth Week has partnerships with organizations around the world that focus on moths’ ecology, distribution and biodiversity. Its science advisory board includes educators, scientists and environmentalists. We now have over 35 country coordinators around the world,” Lanman said.
Now in its 11th year, the project continues to thrive as it has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post and NPR’s Science Friday.
Liti Haramaty, co-founder of National Moth Week and Friends of the EBEC, encouraged local community members to experience the memorable phenomenon in-person.
“Those who attend Moth Nights discover nature as they have never seen before. It’s a unique opportunity to see how beautiful and diverse moth are. Not only moths, but other insects and occasionally other nocturnal creatures, such as tree squirrels, that are found at night during Moth Night.
“Attendees get a chance to not only admire moths and other insects for their appearance but can learn about the ecological importance of insects and moths and why it is important to conserve ecosystems that support them,” Haramaty said.
For more information on National Moth Week, visit nationalmothweek.org