Science teams work to capture, count, and catalog species of insects -- as well as birds, bats and frogs -- in an all-night competition held in a Norwich, Connecticut park. Among the finds: the rare Fairy Moth.
All-Night Race to Capture, Catalog, Count, Species in Park
AL ROKER reporting:
Scientists made a big discovery in an unusual place this weekend. An insect so elusive, it's gone unnoticed for years. More from NBC's Bob Dotson.
BOB DOTSON reporting:
This weekend, a major scientific discovery: finding a moth that dates back to the dinosaurs.
Unidentified Scientist #1: We know nothing about its biology. Absolutely nothing.
DOTSON: Because only 12 have ever been seen. So they call it a fairy moth. All this takes place, not in some distant rain forest or Amazon jungle, but in a city park, Norwich, Connecticut, just 100 miles from New York City.
Unidentified Scientist #2: Bang!
DOTSON: Dozens of scientists compete to see who can find the most species in a 24-hour period.
Unidentified Scientist #3: To protect themselves against predation, from birds, etc., so.
DOTSON: I don't understand a word you said.
A scavenger hunt in a 400-acre park. A nonstop competition. Experts in birds, bugs...A robber fly?
Unidentified Scientist #4: Uh-huh.
DOTSON: ...and frogs. You know, if you kiss that frog, anything can happen.
Ms. LINDA RUTH (Scientist): I'd say he'd turn out looking like my husband, but he'll probably see it on TV tonight and divorce me.
DOTSON: Patience is a necessary tool. These people put up a 15-foot badminton net to catch bats. They sit around all night looking like a bunch of miners waiting for a drive-in movie to start.
Unidentified Scientist #5: We've had a few calls come through on the bat detector if you can...
DOTSON: But the bat people struck out.
Unidentified Scientist #6: Didn't escape that time.
DOTSON: Everybody knows this is the team to beat, the scientists who work all night, plucking moths by ultraviolet light.
Unidentified Scientist #7: Oh, it's a larvae.
DOTSON: What makes a good moth man and what makes a good beetle man?
Unidentified Scientist #8: Insomnia.
DOTSON: Bugs aren't the only things attracted to the moth people's light. We find beetle guys hovering just out of sight. But you're using their light.
Unidentified Scientist #9: Light is light.
DOTSON: This a race not only to whack and suck and capture, but also to see how many they can catalog.
Scientist #7: Remember what we found before that we had no idea what it was? I think we found it again.
DOTSON: The only thing I found was poison ivy.
Unidentified Scientist #10: Yeah, we got that. We got that covered.
Reporter: But Carl Rettenmeyer got more. He uncovered a bug called Springtail.
Mr. CARL RETTENMEYER: We estimate that this park has between 10 and 50 billion.
Mr. RETTENMEYER: Just--billion.
DOTSON: No bigger than specks of dust, but their tails are so powerful, they can leap six inches.
Mr. RETTENMEYER: It would be like a person jumping over the Empire State Building.
Unidentified Scientist #11: Did we count this guy?
DOTSON: So, the beetle people have the best chance to beat the mighty moths.
Scientist #2: Stop counting.
DOTSON: Who won? Those beetle guys tallied 255 different bugs. But the moth people zapped them with 299. There is no prize for losing a night's sleep, just the joy of showing the rest of us what we are missing, even standing next to them. Ooh, sorry. Is this one? I think I got one for you.
For TODAY, Bob Dotson, NBC News, Norwich, Connecticut.