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Environmental Commision

Moth Night at Pequest Hatchery, July 23, 2014

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Despite falling on the only rainy day of National Moth Week, there was lots of public interest in the evening of moth-related activities, with an estimated 200+ participants. Our aim was to raise awareness of a segment of local wildlife that is rarely studied, despite it's importance to the ecosystem - many moths are pollinators, as well as being part of the food web, feeding all manner ofwildlife. We raised awareness too, of the importance of native plants and trees, that provide food for caterpillars and nectar for adult moths.

The early evening revolved around displays from local organizations, including the Warren County Soil Conservation District, Mansfield's Green Team, Audubon, Warren County Mosquito Commission. There were also children's activities - face painting and moth antennae making, provided by the friends from the Mountain Lake Community Association and Watershed Action Group. Accompanying this were a series of presentations: Planting native plants by Michael Van Clef of; photography techniques by Michael Downey of, an introduction to the work of NJ Fish and Wildlife, and the rare moth list that is being compiled, by Robert Soames; and finally a spectacular moth slide show by Wade Wander, president of the North American Butterfly Association.

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Once it was fully dark, the display moved outside to where the moths were starting to be attracted by an attractant painted on trees and the bright sodium and mercury vapor lamps that had been set up. The moths didn't disappoint, with a number of large and friendly specimens, and many smaller species, some of them uncommon.

Our entomologists, Blaine Rothhauser, Wade Wander and Steve Kloiber did a fantastic job of identifying our flying visitors. Once the crowd thinned, Blaine and Steve documented 130 species in about 30 minutes, reminding us all what a special part of the country this truly is.

Thanks to the Hatchery for the use of their facilities, to Blaine and Wade who went above and beyond in the scouting evening, the radio interview and on the night itself. Thanks to those organizations that contributed financially - Liberty Township, Mansfield Environmental Commission and Green Team, and the Mountain Lake Community Association and Watershed Action Group, and to our presenters, volunteer organizers and especially Dan Kurela, who put in countless hours and not a few of his own hard-earned dollars, to create a fabulous viewing experience.