Tuesday Trivia: It's National Moth Week

J. H. Osborne • Jul 23, 2019 at 5:30 PM

In case you haven’t heard, it’s National Moth Week, which encourages moth enthusiasts — a.k.a. “moth-ers” —  “to participate in this worldwide citizen science project that literally shines a light on moths, their beauty, ecological diversity and critical role in the natural world.”

That quote is from a press release issued earlier this year by the event’s organizers.

Why moths?

• Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.

• Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 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.

”Pollination is a critical ecosystem service that ensures plants can maintain genetically diverse populations,” Dr. Elena Tartaglia stated in the press release. Tartaglia is a founding member of the National Moth Week team, whose research also has focused on moth pollinators. “Moths that visit flowers will also benefit from this relationship by getting energy in the form of nectar. In the process, moths carry pollen from plant to plant, allowing for fertilization between distant individuals.”

National Moth Week was founded in 2012 by the Friends of the East Brunswick (New Jersey) Environmental Commission, a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education and conservation. It is now one of the most widespread citizen science projects in the world. It is coordinated by an all-volunteer team in New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Washington State, Ecuador, India and Hong Kong.

For more information about National Moth Week, visit the website at nationalmothweek.org.