The Washington Post: National Moth Week: Much ado about mothing

The Washington Post       Urban Jungle    July 16, 2013 / The changing natural world at our doorsteps|

llustration and text by Patterson Clark

Celebrate National Moth Week (July 23-29) by becoming a moth’er and joining a group staring at a strung-up white sheet lighted by a lamp.

Moths will be attracted to the bright surface, especially if it is illuminated with either mercury-vapor or ultraviolet light. When the nocturnal insects land on the fabric, citizen-scientist moth’ers will count and identify them.

“July is a period of peak diversity for moths across the country,” says NMW co-founder David Moskowitz, an entomologist and senior vice president of EcolSciences in New Jersey. Moskowitz also lures moths with “sweet bait.” Beer, bananas and brown sugar or molasses are mixed together and allowed to ferment for a few days, says Moskowitz, who then paints the mixture on the sides of trees at dusk and waits to see which moths show up.

Celebrating its second year, National Moth Week has already outgrown its name, becoming something more akin to World Moth Week. Events are scheduled in 34 countries, from Nicaragua to Norway.

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