The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

2012.08.01 Losing sleep with the Moth Man

Written by David Green.


I’m not the nocturnal member of this family. That would be my wife, of course, who can operate day after day on what I consider not enough sleep.

Since she knows that I’m in bed reading by 10:15—with the exception of 1 a.m. Mondays—she was ready to call the police at midnight Saturday. She had her phone with her as she drove toward Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area (the Tourist Camp for those of you over the age of 50, perhaps). She thought I must have been murdered by a mysterious moth man.

It was rather uncharacteristic behavior for me to hang out in the woods that late. Colleen was engaged in some overdue gardening when I rushed home Saturday around 9 p.m., announced that the moth man had arrived and ran into the house for long pants and a camera.

I don’t recall saying much else as I ran to the car and took off into the fading light.

For me, this adventure came courtesy of Chief of Police Larry Weeks. He sent an e-mail to tell me that a couple of guys would be “doing an entomology survey in Riverside Park Saturday in the pm.

Larry apologized for not having any more information than that, but he ended with “I figured it would be something you might be interested in.

Was I interested? I drove down the road to Riverside four times Saturday afternoon but never found anyone. In the back of my mind I wondered if they might work in the night because I had tracked down one of the guys, Dwayne, and he had an odd e-mail address that refers to a class of night-flying moths.

So I decided to check one last time around 9 p.m. I turned down the Riverside drive and soon saw an odd purplish light off to the side. Soon there was another and a man standing nearby. 

I drove on down to the park and saw a large white sheet erected in the opening with a pair of black lights lighting it up. There were more lights here and there around the woods. Thank you, Larry Weeks. The adventure was about to begin.

So I rushed home and rushed back and met Dwayne, an unlikely moth specialist. Sure, it’s just a matter of stereotypes, but if I were introduced to a machinist with a ponytail and lots of tattoos, I wouldn’t automatically think, “I’ll bet this guy knows moths like someone else knows baseball players or rock musicians.”

Maybe he knows all of those things, but believe me, he knows moths.

Before it got dark, Dwayne had walked around the Riverside loop and painted a splot on several trees with a fruity mixture. I’ll have to listen to my recording to get details. This whole episode will make a great story in a future Observer.

I met him at his moth collecting headquarters—the large cloth with the black lights. Soon it was time to walk the loop to see what had arrived.

I’m pretty dumb about moths. I generally equate them with windowsills where I see them dead. Of course they’re always buzzing around porch lights and street lamps, but I never made the obvious connection—for the most part, moths are creatures of the night. You don’t see them much in daylight, but at night they’re everywhere.

Dwayne would walk up to a fruity patch and I would see nothing and assume it was empty except for the ants. He would open a collecting jar, move it to the tree and soon a moth would fly inside it. What excellent camouflagers.

I soon caught on and started spotting them. Other than size, they all looked pretty much alike to me. Dwayne would rattle off the Latin name like he was talking about a good friend. I suppose he was.

We looked through his collection back at headquarters and it became obvious they weren’t at all the same. It also became obvious they’re beautiful little things. Such interesting, delicate markings, iridescent under the flashlight. Butterflies get all the attention with their bright colors, but moths know how to do it in browns and grays.

The wingstem that grows at Riverside attracts the gold moth. The wafer ash another, the hop vine another, etc. It gives Riverside one more reason to exist. I’m always surprised every time I hear about people from far away who value Morenci’s wild park.

Around midnight I decided I should leave. It’s a vacation week for a staff member at the Observer and I needed to do a lot of extra work. I really had no time for moths and for staying up so late.

I thanked Dwayne and drove back up to North Street. A car was just turning into the drive. It was Colleen and now Morenci’s police department would not receive her missing person report that night.

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