This photo provided by Eric H. Metzler shows a new species of moth, discovered by Metzler, that will be named by the lucky winner of an online auction whose proceeds will benefit the Western National Parks Association, which has funded some of Metzler's research. (Eric H. Metzler via AP)
What would you pay to name a moth?
October 23, 2015
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An auction on eBay allows the public to make a different kind of purchase. As they peruse the used clothing, electronics and war relics on the site, something unusual is up for sale. It is the naming rights to an insect.
The bug is a moth. It weighs less than an ounce. It measures about an inch. Eight years ago, it was discovered at White Sands National Monument. That's in New Mexico. Eric H. Metzler discovered the moth. He is an entomologist. That's a scientist who studies insects.
The rigorous process to have a new species approved has taken several years. Now Metzler, a volunteer at the park, is ready to give his flying friend a name.
That honor is usually bestowed on the person who made the finding.
But Metzler wanted to give back to the Western National Parks Association. The organization has funded some of his research. So he asked the association to start an online auction for the naming rights and to take the proceeds.
"I am not a rich man. And I don't have a lot of money to give to charity. But this is the way I could give them money in the form of service. I could use my brains to help them," Metzler said.
The auction is live on eBay. It ended Oct. 23. The bidding started at $500.
"When are you ever going to have the opportunity to have your own moth named after you?" said Amy Reichgott. She is development manager for the Western National Parks Association.
The winner will work with Metzler to Latinize the name. An international organization has to approve the name.
Others have auctioned off naming rights with varied success. Last year, Nova Southeastern University auctioned off the naming rights to a newly discovered type of sea lily.
The university's public affairs department touted it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The department suggested that it was the perfect holiday gift. It also would help benefit the Florida school's Oceanographic Center.
The winner of the auction was a Florida resident. The winning bid was $6,150. The sea lily hasn't been officially named yet. It's still undergoing a peer-review process, university spokesman Joe Donzelli said.
Reichgott knows a moth may be even less appealing than a sea lily. So the organization sent out emails reminding members and others that moths are butterflies without the bright colors that fly at night, not the daytime.
"We're trying to break the stigma against the moth. Give the moth a fair shake," she said, laughing.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How will this moth benefit the Western National Parks Association?
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