SUBJECT :India is among 40 countries in which enthusiasts and citizen scientists are devoting the week from July 21 to 29 to document the insects 

Creating a flutter: Problepsis apollinaria.| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

By- Aathira Perinchery

Kochi, July 22, 2018: Their lack of brilliant colours may make most moths less-noticeable than butterflies, but an international citizen science initiative hopes to change this. The National Moth Week, which encourages people to observe and document moths in backyards and neighbourhoods, is underway across the world, and India’s citizen scientists are also taking part.

The main aim of the National Moth Week, initiated in 2012 by scientists in America, is to increase awareness on moths, said researcher Vijay Barve, India coordinator of the initiative.

A moth belonging to the genus Cyana.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Observed in the last week of July in more than 40 countries worldwide now, enthusiasts observe moths either individually or in groups. Since moths are naturally attracted to light, some observers use ‘light traps’. The most simple version of such a trap involves shining a bright light on a white wall or screen, to which moths flock.

Identifying most moth species can be difficult, but observers can capture photographs on their smartphones and upload them on citizen science mobile applications (such as iNaturalist) and online biodiversity repositories such as the India Biodiversity Portal (IBP).

Walks, talks

The IBP’s Indian Moths Group has been observing the National Moth Week for the past five years. Last year, participants made over 350 observations, their 2017 report says.

The Indian moon moth.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Antony P. U., a Professor at Bengaluru’s Christ College, plans to spot moths in their habitats by going on walks this year. “I will be leading groups of students and local nature enthusiasts on moth walks at Bengaluru and near Wayanad’s Mananthawady later in the week,” he said over the phone.

Among the several events across India, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will instruct participants on how to watch and photograph moths at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary near Delhi, while the Community of Education, Research and Development (CERD) Foundation in J&K’s Anantnag has scheduled several talks on moths in local schools and colleges.

Micronia aculeate.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“We hope this will increase awareness on moth diversity and their role in the ecosystem,” said Aabid Hussain Mir, president, CERD Foundation.

India is home to more than 10,000 moth species, including the large and flamboyant Indian moon moth Actias selene. Important food sources for many animals, moths can be indicators of ecosystem health.

Source: The Hindu