Friday, July 10, 2020

National Moth Week 2020

Moths are one of the most diverse groups of insects and India is no exception. It is estimated that we have more than ten thousand species of moths in India, though we do not have an authoritative checklist of all the species yet. We can help change this by doing our bit. Come participate in NMW 2020.  Let us understand what is National Moth Week and how we can participate.

Most groups of moths are attracted towards light sources in the night. So anyone wanting to study moths or merely wanting to help in documenting can switch on some lights at least once in a month and photograph them. Photographing moths is relatively easy compared with most insect groups because moths just like to settle near the light source provided they have something stable to cling on. Providing a white sheet of cloth like a curtain or bed sheet will help attract a lot of moths. So white or light colored walls in the porch or terrace with light source also work well.

Let me caution you though, due to the diversity present, identifying moths is not that easy task, but thanks to the ever growing pool of web resources made available for various groups, we have some initial help. Posting these photographs on biodiversity portals like iNaturalist, India Biodiversity Portal and Biodiversity Atlas of India (Moths of India) would both help us to learn about moths and help researchers use the data seamlessly for further studies. In other words, we merely become Moth sensors and in the process learn a lot of fascinating things about them and contribute to science. 

NMW intends to trigger this hobby into naturalists and help us all learn about diversity of our moths, their distributions across states and UT, conservation implications etc. For that we simply need to register an event with NMW [] letting them know we want to participate in the 2020 event. The events are of two types, private and public. This year due to the pandemic situation we prefer to have private events where you simply switch on some lights where you have a sheet or wall available to observe moths during that week. On the specified daya switch on the lights before sunset and check the sheet several times in the night before you sleep. Make sure to photograph all the moths and even other insects you see and post them on portals. 

Public events could be similar events to be organized in public places inviting a wider audience. Someone familiar with Moth fauna of the region can also help with providing more information and identities of common moths. In earlier years we have organized talks and field trips to watch moths. This year, we are also organizing some webinars by experts from all over the world.

Once we have this data posted on biodiversity portals, in subsequent weeks all the records would be curated by experts and we expect that in most cases we get at least some level of identifications done.

It will be really helpful to get such documentation for each district of India ultimately. This year we plan to reach out to at least a handful sites in each state and union territories of India and for this purpose we need help from all the naturalists to help set up events in your place and also help us reach out to members form all the states and union territories. Some stated where the events have been organized in earlier years are targeting to reach out to each district. Let us come together and make it a big success.

Please register here now.

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