For Tel Aviv native Liti Haramaty, moths – in their multitude of shapes and colors – are so much more than the dreaded creatures that inhabit rice sacks and nibble holes through a favorite shirt.

“You show [people] a picture of a beautiful moth,” she said. “They say, it’s a butterfly – you say, it’s not.”

Haramaty met with The Jerusalem Post earlier in the month at the Butterfly Park in East Brunswick, New Jersey, to discuss the second annual National Moth Week, a string of evenings celebrating the moth throughout the United States and across the world, from July 20 to 28.

After hosting a series of moth viewing nights in East Brunswick since 2005, Haramaty and co-founder of National Moth Week, David Moskowitz decided that they would take the moths to a national, and even international level, for the summer of 2012.

Despite the fact that butterflies typically receive more fanfare, there are actually about 10 to 15 times more species of moths than butterflies, with appearances ranging from vibrantly colorful to camouflage, according to the co-founders.

“I say ‘mothing’ is the new birding,” Haramaty said.

Despite her hobby documenting moths, Haramaty holds a day job as a researcher at the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

She is also a founding member of the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission and has been a member of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission itself since 2002. Moskowitz, is senior vice president of EcolSciences, Inc., an environmental consulting firm in New Jersey, and is also a doctoral student in entomology at Rutgers University.

“The nice thing about moths is that you don’t have to look for them, they come to you,” Haramaty said. “All you have to do is turn on the light.”

While some moths are active during the daytime like butterflies, most are nocturnal – appearing at night and highly attracted to light. Moths are among the most diverse organisms on the planet, and scientists estimate that there is anywhere between 150,000 to 500,000 species, according to Haramaty and her colleagues.

As food for other organisms like birds and bats, moths have great ecological importance, and many actually serve as pollinators for various plants, she explained.

In East Brunswick, Haramaty and Moskovitz host three to four moth nights each summer, with one coinciding during Moth Week. At their events, they hang sheets between two trees and use a special mercury vapor light that lures moths because of its resemblance to moonlight. “They will stay for hours,” Haramaty said.

Hosting a moth night, however, does not require such professional equipment, and Haramaty stressed that Israelis could even hold events on their apartment balconies – “If you give them a surface to rest on they’ll come to the light,” she said.

Last year, representatives from 49 states – North Dakota was absent – and 29 countries participated in National Moth Week.

Celebrations this year will be taking place in all 50 states and 37 countries, thus far. One of the more creative National Moth Week celebrations last year involved a moth treasure hunt and moth 1960s horror movie viewing in Maine, according to Haramaty. This year in India, one group is going camping an entire week just to be able to observe moths on a nightly basis, she added.

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington will host behind the scenes tours of their insect collection while Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico will hold a moth night within the site.

Haramaty and her colleagues have made a data collection sheet available in preparation for the week, so that participants can submit species information and photos of the moths they find to worldwide naturalist organizations. Last year, participants uploaded about 3,000 moth photos to these partners.

Since the summertime is the best time to view moths, Haramaty said that the organization plans to launch a January event for the southern hemisphere, which has not been able to take part in the week as extensively.

Oz Rittner, an expert on beetles at the Tel Aviv University Zoological Museum and who runs a website called “Nature of Oz: Israel Insect World,” will be hosting a moth night during the week near his home in Rishon Lezion.

“My main goal is to attract species of beetles but also moths, because I can say that the Israeli insect fauna have hardly been studied,” Rittner told the Post on Thursday.

Like Haramaty, Rittner calls moths “more of a hobby,” but explained that the sheets and light traps he uses to attract and photograph beetles also work well for moths. Only large sized moths and moths that are agricultural pests have been thoroughly studied in Israel, while the smaller species remain largely unknown to scientists, he explained.

“This is something that every citizen can do,” he said. “They all come to you, sometimes in very large numbers and in a great diversity as well.”

Echoing the same sentiments, Sandra Lanman, a volunteer spokeswoman for National Moth Week, called the now global effort “an ideal citizen science project” due to the ease at which people can partake in the evenings.

“You just have to look,” Haramaty said.For Tel Aviv native Liti Haramaty, moths – in their multitude of shapes and colors – are so much more than the dreaded creatures that inhabit rice sacks and nibble holes through a favorite shirt.

“You show [people] a picture of a beautiful moth,” she said. “They say, it’s a butterfly – you say, it’s not.”

Haramaty met with The Jerusalem Post earlier in the month at the Butterfly Park in East Brunswick, New Jersey, to discuss the second annual National Moth Week, a string of evenings celebrating the moth throughout the United States and across the world, from July 20 to 28.

After hosting a series of moth viewing nights in East Brunswick since 2005, Haramaty and co-founder of National Moth Week, David Moskowitz decided that they would take the moths to a national, and even international level, for the summer of 2012.

Despite the fact that butterflies typically receive more fanfare, there are actually about 10 to 15 times more species of moths than butterflies, with appearances ranging from vibrantly colorful to camouflage, according to the cofounders.

“I say ‘mothing’ is the new birding,” Haramaty said.

Despite her hobby documenting moths, Haramaty holds a day job as a researcher at the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

She is also a founding member of the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission and has been a member of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission itself since 2002. Moskowitz, is senior vice president of EcolSciences, Inc., an environmental consulting firm in New Jersey, and is also a doctoral student in entomology at Rutgers University.

“The nice thing about moths is that you don’t have to look for them, they come to you,” Haramaty said. “All you have to do is turn on the light.”

While some moths are active during the daytime like butterflies, most are nocturnal – appearing at night and highly attracted to light. Moths are among the most diverse organisms on the planet, and scientists estimate that there is anywhere between 150,000 to 500,000 species, according to Haramaty and her colleagues.

As food for other organisms like birds and bats, moths have great ecological importance, and many actually serve as pollinators for various plants, she explained.

In East Brunswick, Haramaty and Moskovitz host three to four moth nights each summer, with one coinciding during Moth Week. At their events, they hang sheets between two trees and use a special mercury vapor light that lures moths because of its resemblance to moonlight. “They will stay for hours,” Haramaty said.

Hosting a moth night, however, does not require such professional equipment, and Haramaty stressed that Israelis could even hold events on their apartment balconies – “If you give them a surface to rest on they’ll come to the light,” she said.

Last year, representatives from 49 states – North Dakota was absent – and 29 countries participated in National Moth Week.

Celebrations this year will be taking place in all 50 states and 37 countries, thus far. One of the more creative National Moth Week celebrations last year involved a moth treasure hunt and moth 1960s horror movie viewing in Maine, according to Haramaty. This year in India, one group is going camping an entire week just to be able to observe moths on a nightly basis, she added.

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington will host behind the scenes tours of their insect collection while Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico will hold a moth night within the site.

Haramaty and her colleagues have made a data collection sheet available in preparation for the week, so that participants can submit species information and photos of the moths they find to worldwide naturalist organizations. Last year, participants uploaded about 3,000 moth photos to these partners.

Since the summertime is the best time to view moths, Haramaty said that the organization plans to launch a January event for the southern hemisphere, which has not been able to take part in the week as extensively.

Oz Rittner, an expert on beetles at the Tel Aviv University Zoological Museum and who runs a website called “Nature of Oz: Israel Insect World,” will be hosting a moth night during the week near his home in Rishon Lezion.

“My main goal is to attract species of beetles but also moths, because I can say that the Israeli insect fauna have hardly been studied,” Rittner told the Post on Thursday.

Like Haramaty, Rittner calls moths “more of a hobby,” but explained that the sheets and light traps he uses to attract and photograph beetles also work well for moths. Only large sized moths and moths that are agricultural pests have been thoroughly studied in Israel, while the smaller species remain largely unknown to scientists, he explained.

“This is something that every citizen can do,” he said. “They all come to you, sometimes in very large numbers and in a great diversity as well.”

Echoing the same sentiments, Sandra Lanman, a volunteer spokeswoman for National Moth Week, called the now global effort “an ideal citizen science project” due to the ease at which people can partake in the evenings.

“You just have to look,” Haramaty said.

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