Moths Take the Limelight this Week

July 25, 2013 Updated: July 25, 2013

NEW YORK—They eat holes into your sweaters, they ruin your carpet, they occupy your food, and at night, they crash into your light bulbs. For many people, the moth is a nuisance but for others it’s a passion. David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty of New Jersey started National Moth Week. For seven days scientists and amateurs get together to study and promote the importance of these insects for biodiversity.

National Moth Week (NMW)—from July 20 to 28—gives everyone a chance to contribute observations and data about moths. Numerous organizations hold about 400 moth-spotting and educational events in 50 states and 40 countries, according to the NMW website.

Moskowitz and Haramaty have been running local Moth Nights with the East Brunswick Environmental Commission several times a year since 2005. Usually 30 to 50 attend, including scientists and people simply wanting to experience a unique nature activity at night.

In late 2011, Moskowitz and Haramaty established National Moth Week with their Moth and Moth-Watching Facebook page. In New Jersey, a Moth Night will be held in East Brunswick Butterfly Park on July 27.

“White sheets and mercury vapor lights will be set up in the woods and trees brushed with a sweet, fermented moth bait to attract moths for observation,” Moth Night’s event website announces. Parents are invited to bring children to learn about moths and how important they are to the ecosystem.

Moths are some of the most diverse organisms on Earth. Because they are so widespread and sensitive to changes, scientists observe them to check for environmental shifts or for studying the effects of industry and pollution, according to the Butterfly Conservation group ( There are about 150,000 and half a million species of moths, all in a myriad of colors, patterns, and sizes. Some are so small they are hardly visible to the eye and some are as large as a man’s hand. While most moths are nocturnal, some species can be seen in daylight flying among the butterflies.