Bagging a Moth at Midnight


Photo of moths flying under floodlight by David Braun

It’s past midnight and we’re in the second half of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore bioblitz.

The goal of the bioblitz is to find as many species as possible in the 24 hours from midday yesterday to midday today. But it’s been raining, at times heavily, for most of the first 12 hours and the total species count was in the low 400s by midnight.

Several teams are on night patrol, deploying clever traps to lure moths, beetles, and other nocturnal animals for the species count. Some have already returned with stories of seeing a toad, a snake, a racoon, a coyote, a bullfrog tadpole.

One scientist, Jeff Holiday, assistant professor of entomology at Purdue University, noticed that moths were swarming under a mobile light tower in the parking lot. It seemed like a good opportunity to bag another species or two for the bioblitz list.


Photo of Jeff Holland bagging a moth (above) and researching his finds (below) by David Braun


Read more about Jeff Holland on BlogWILD.

I’m proud to say that I also may have added a species to the bioblitz list.

While scratching my head yesterday I felt a strange mass in my hair. I teased it out and beheld a live tick that tried to scurry off my finger. I handed it to an entomologist who deftly swept it into a specimen bottle. “It might be the only one we get today because of the rain,” he said.

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn