The spotlight will be on nighttime nature as National Moth Week 2016 has its official kickoff on Saturday, July 23 with an evening of mothing at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, 42 Riva Avenue in South Brunswick.
The event will run from 8 to 11:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Visitors are advised to wear sneakers or sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight. Rain date will be Sunday, July 24. In the event of inclement weather, information will be posted on friendsebec.com.
The event is a collaboration between the Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation and the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (Friends of EBEC) to mark the start of the fifth annual National Moth Week, an international citizen science project, which runs from July 23 to 31 this year.
National Moth Week was established in 2012 by the Friends of EBEC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation and education, to help raise awareness about the beauty, biodiversity and ecological importance of moths, which are among the most important pollinators in the natural world.
It immediately drew international attention, with events registered in 49 states and 29 countries around the world. Since then, National Moth Week events have been held each year in all 50 states and a total of 65 countries. National Parks and National Monuments such as the Grand Canyon, Acadia National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands and this year, Denali in Alaska, hold moth-watching events.
“We’re very excited to be kicking of this year’s National Moth Week with the Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation,” said National Moth Week co-founder Liti Haramaty. “Davidson’s Mill Pond Park is the perfect location because it is already dedicated to protecting native pollinators with pollinator boxes and pollinator ‘hotels’” and a seasonal butterfly house.
Citizen scientists of all ages and abilities are encouraged to go outside to observe and document moths through photos and other information that can then be submitted online to international and regional organizations that collect data on the distribution and diversity of moths.
This year, National Moth Week is spotlighting underwings in the genus Catocala. There are more than 250 known species of Catocala, with about half found in North America, while the rest are in Europe, Asia and the tropics. Their dull-colored forewings, serve as camouflage while at rest. However, when they spread their wings, they reveal strikingly colorful hindwings with orange, red, white or blue markings.
Members of the National Moth Week team, including co-founders Haramaty and David Moskowitz, will be on hand to help with identification.
People of all ages and abilities can participate, and backyard private events are also encouraged. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to nationalmothweek.org.
“This is an exciting event that will ultimately help our environment,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “Pollination is so very important to the health of our ecosystem, and this event will help us do our part for the environment.”
“The very fact that this event was the catalyst for events nationally and even internationally proves its importance,” said Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro. “I applaud the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission and all who will participate for their commitment to our environment, both locally and on a much larger scale.”