National Moth Week is exactly what it sounds like, a week of folks from around the country (and the world) finding, observing, and recording moths. It’s a great way to learn about the moths that are in literally in your own back yard, and to do some hands-on, real-life research that can help science.

The process is simple: Before National Moth Week starts, create an account (via a computer or your smartphone) on iNaturalist. It’s a wonderful resource to log your findings (of moths or anything else), and in turn, your observations provide data for entomologists, biologists, and other scientists. The app is easy to use: You create a username, log your findings (moths or any other lifeforms) by uploading a picture of your find, note the time and location (you can obscure location for privacy reasons), and then make an attempt at identifying it. (Skimming through a few field guides is good practice!) If you don’t know what you spotted, there’s an AI-powered algorithm that can sometimes get you close to the right answer; pro tip: it’s helpful to check the given genus/species’s native range first,, as sometimes the algorithm suggests species that aren’t found in one’s area.)

You might not feel comfortable picking a definitive ID. That’s OK! As long as you flag it to a general category (in this case, Lepidoptera: Butterflies and Moths), other helpful users (some of whom are specialists) can help narrow it down, or even provide a Genus or Species-level ID. And don’t worry about getting things wrong at first; there are more than 10,000 species of moths in the U.S., and some are incredibly difficult to tell apart outside of a lab. (Some, though, are no-doubters, and boy are they a treat.)

When National Moth Week Starts

Set up a Moth Light or put out some Moth Bait, have a camera and a flashlight at the ready, and see what shows up. Then photograph, log, and submit your finds. Make no mistake, if you’re observing and recording data, you’re doing science. Once you see the variety, colors, and beauty of moths (even the smallest can be absolutely intricate), you’ll look forward to this most sacred week (MOTH WEEEEEEK) again and again.