Max Frederick attended his first moth night in East Brunswick, N.J., when he was just 5 or 6 years old and barely waist-high to the adults who crowded around the lighted sheet with him. Now 15, he still remembers it.
“At the very first one, seeing all those moths on the white canvas with the light really fascinated me. Then once we saw this really big one and lot of cool things that showed up and I just thought to myself, wow, this is nature.”
Thanks to his mother, Leah, it would be the first of many moth nights for Max. “My mom heard about it and we just started going and we’ve been going ever since,” he said.
Max’s interest in moths has never waned. After the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission launched National Moth Week in 2012 as a worldwide citizen science project, Max continued to be a moth night regular. Now, he’s also a volunteer.
“I thought I would reach out to [NMW co-founder Liti Haramaty] and see if I could help at all,” he said. ”Right now, I’ve been looking across the web for moth night events that aren’t registered. I find their contact information and get in touch and see if they will register.”
As National Moth Week has become more widely known through various environmental groups and websites around the world, events are springing up each year that aren’t registered on the NMW website, explained Liti.
“Max is being really helpful by searching the internet for NMW events that are being promoted by different groups, but haven’t registered with us.” Liti said. “When public events are registered, they are placed on our events map, which helps them increase attendance. It also helps us see the types of events and locations around the world. Groups also receive a beautiful certificate of participation designed by our artist Belen Mena.”
Max will be a junior this fall at East Brunswick High School, where he has been a member and officer of the SAVE Club, which stands for Students Against Violating the Environment. He’s also been active with the Plastic Free EB campaign to reduce plastic bag use in the township. Looking to the future, he is trying to decide whether to go into veterinary medicine or marine biology, but entomology is “definitely a consideration” too.
He thinks National Moth Week is a great idea but not enough of his friends know about it. “I’ve been reaching out to them and inviting them to moth nights.” He hopes they’ll join him for the kickoff for National Moth Week this weekend in East Brunswick and around the world.
— Sandy Lanman