For the first time New Zealand is joining international Moth Week, a week that celebrates all things moth.

Puriri moth

A series of events are being held around the country and scientists are issuing a call-out to anyone interested in trapping and recording moths around New Zealand.

“Moths are incredibly important to our ecological systems but we need much more information about their biodiversity and geographical location,” says Moth Week Aotearoa organiser and University of Auckland PhD candidate Morgane Merien.

Moth Week is a worldwide event which occurs from July 17th to the 25th. This is its 10th year, but the first time that New Zealand has taken part. Different places around the country have organised light trapping sessions to help with documenting moths (Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, West Coast and the Catlins).

Ms Merien says people can help by providing observations of moths they find, and adding them to this iNaturalist project.

Light trapping is the most common method used to attract moth fauna and works by laying a large white sheet on the ground or hanging it up with a bright light placed near the centre. The light doesn’t actually attract the insects, instead it confuses and intercepts them from their chosen flight path.

Once the insect has landed somewhere, it can be photographed and recorded.

Some of New Zealand’s moths have never been scientifically named – we only know about 1500 of roughly 2000 native moths - and around 90 per cent of our moths are endemic – found nowhere else.

Slender owlet moth

Ms Merien says moths are incredibly important for their intrinsic value, and the services they provide to the planet including as a source of food for other animals, as pollinators (moths are winter pollinators for some plants) and as indicators of a health – or not healthy – environment.

Things people can do to help moths include having a messy garden with a variety of plants and cutting down on pesticides or herbicides.

“Nature is full of really cool things and moths are no exception,” she says. “Our puriri moth is one of the most extraordinary of its kind in the world but other moths generally go unnoticed and this lack of understanding is what we want to change through events like Moth Week.

“We really hope people will become involved!”

Other events in Aotearoa Moth Week include a colouring competition and activities aimed at younger people and school children. Social media will also play a part with a twitter account and a facebook page set up.

Media contact

Anne Beston | Media adviser
DDI 09 923 3258
Mob 021 970 089
Email a.beston@auckland.ac.nz