Bob Sanders and Betty Jo Hall (standing) get a closer look at the hundreds of moths that gathered outside of the Trinity River Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Liberty for Moth Night Out in 2018.

By Vanesa Brashier

Saturday was a night of firsts for Bob Sander and Betty Jo Hall, two of the attendees at this year’s Moth Night Out at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on FM 1011 in Liberty. The Houston couple was wrapping up a day of adventures in Liberty, a city they had never visited despite residing an hour’s drive away.

“We came to Liberty for Faux Real Trade Days. We’ve been exploring Liberty County today,” Hall said. “We had never heard of a Moth Night Out event, so we decided to come check this one out.”

The couple, like the 24 or so other people in attendance, marveled at the number of moths that collected on a white screen behind the Refuge’s headquarters.

Walking among those casually viewing the moths was Stuart Marcus, Refuge director, who was intent on photographing the different and unique moths. The photos will be used to catalog moth species that appear at the Refuge.

According to Marcus, 15,000 species of moths can be found in North America. That’s a 15-to-1 difference in the number of butterflies in North America.

Marcus gave a presentation at the start of Moth Night Out in which he explained the Good, Bad and Ugly types of moths and caterpillars. No moth or caterpillar is bad, Marcus said, some just serve a different purpose that people might consider negatively.

John Schneider, an amateur etymologist from the Houston area, says he attended Moth Night Out to share his love of moths with other people.

Schneider believes moths are often overlooked because people believe they are drab, dull insects. It is a misconception, he says.

“A lot of people don’t realize how many different kinds of them there are. They don’t know how attractive they can be and the important role they play as pollinators and a food source to other animals,” Schneider said.

If you missed Moth Night Out, another event is planned for the Houston area on July 28 at Deer Park Prairie, 1222 E. Purdue Lane, Deer Park.

Whether Hall and Sander attend another Moth Night Out is up for debate. When asked what they plan to do to top Moth Night Out on their next outing, Sander said with a laugh, “Watch paint dry.”

Hall seemed more impressed.

“I never knew this was how you got moths,” she said, motioning to the white screens and lights. “Now I’ll need to put up a sheet in my backyard in Houston and see what I get.”

For more information on events at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, go online to https://www.fws.gov/refuge/trinity_river/

Stuart Marcus, director of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, works to catalog every species of moth that appeared for Saturday night’s Moth Night Out, an annual event held by TRNWR in Liberty to educate people on the importance of moths.
Stuart Marcus, director of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, works to catalog every species of moth that appeared for Saturday night’s Moth Night Out, an annual event held by TRNWR in Liberty to educate people on the importance of moths.
Devon Eldridge, a student at Texas A & M University and aspiring etymologist, holds a walking stick insect, known by its scientific name of Phasmatodea, during Saturday night’s Moth Night Out at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Liberty.
Stuart Marcus, director of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty, points to a display of moths during his presentation Saturday at Moth Night Out.
The moths collected during Saturday’s Moth Night Out in Liberty will be catalogued by staff of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. The information will be used in future Moth Night Out events.
Bob Sander and Betty Jo Hall (standing) get a closer look at the hundreds of moths that gathered outside of the Trinity River Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Liberty Saturday for Moth Night Out.

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