Catching Moths

Insects, Moths

Light Emerald Campaea margaritaria

Light Emerald Campaea margaritaria


This is how I manage to get to see and photograph so many different species of moth in my garden. With Mk III of my homemade moth trap, utilising 2x 20w blacklight bulbs which do not cause light nuisance issues with the neighbours as some of the more powerful mercury vapour lamps do. Already made moth traps can be bought online, but they can be quite expensive.

You can see more clearly where I have removed one half of the lid of this relatively cheap plastic storage box to show how I access the moths the next morning and the egg boxes which they rest inside. I fixed a timber framework to hold the lighting above the funnel (one light worked okay originally, but two seems better – I have since swapped out one of these bulbs for an LED) and then cut the lid in half and around the framework. I fixed a plastic party plate above to help direct the moths between the bulbs into the funnel, and this also acts a rain protector just in case there is any drizzle. I always check weather forecasts for dry nights. Warm and still nights are usually the best. The bulbs are fixed into two batten holders which are wired to a plug. It is always advised to plug into an RCD socket so that if there are any issues with the electrics it should cut out. Please note that any electrical work should be done by a competent person.

The full set-up at the side of my shed can be seen here. The cheap plastic shower curtain reflects the UV light and some moths will settle on it and around it, sometimes around the corners out of the light. A white bedsheet will do just as well. I sometimes leave the outside shed light on in conjunction with the blacklights, and this appears to increase numbers slighty. The trap can be set up up anywhere in the garden, without the shower curtain or white sheets, and if weather conditions are favourable it can still get a fairly decent catch. I have it elevated for convenience’s sake, but it can be placed on the ground, which some trappers prefer to do.


Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica

Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica


All moths are released unharmed into a safe environment once they have been checked and photographed. I do not trap frequently, and very rarely on consecutive days, as this may disrupt their feeding and mating cycles.


Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix)

The Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix


When mothing you can also attract other interesting nocturnal visitors as can be seen in the examples below. These were found resting near the trap and in the trap.


Caperer Caddis Fly Halesus radiatus

Caperer Caddis Fly Halesus radiatus

Dor beetle Geotrupes stercorarius

Dor beetle Geotrupes stercorarius

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

European Hornet Vespa crabro

European Hornet Vespa crabro


To note not all moths are attracted to light. Some species are attracted to sugars or feromones, which I have not really done as to yet. Some moths can be seen flying during the day just like their butterfly brothers and sisters, but it is at night many of the moth species can be seen attracted to a light source, even if it is just a garden light, or a light in a window.


 

29 thoughts on “Catching Moths

  1. Extraordinary. I love the disguise of the Marbled moth. It’s almost invisible on the rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This isn’t something I’d ever do, but it’s interesting to read about your process, and helps to explain how you’ve achieved some of your wonderful photos! I must say, I enjoyed seeing some of your non-moth friends, too. That beetle is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Linda. You never know what you will find, and you do have to watch for wasps and gnats as they like the light, too. I found three of those big chunky beetles one morning in my trap.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for showing us not only the background to your amazing moth photographs, but some of the other creatures too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We get loads of the Dor Beetles. We pick them up on the roads and carry them to a safe spot as they move so slow. Occasionally one flies very noisily past us. But mostly just poodling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Belinda πŸ™‚ It can be time consuming, and I don’t sleep much on those nights but it is always exciting to see what treasures might be waiting in store.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful photos and beautiful moths / insects. Thank you for this nice post and explanations and that you made these great insects visible to us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A few years back I did some moth attracting. Made some banana and beer based bait and got some lights. Even dezapped a bug zapper to help. The Herald is one that came in. It was fun but then after a while I felt like I was distracting them from what they needed to be doing so gave it up. But the images I got were nice and maybe I’ll try again some day. You get some fine shots and that Marbled Beauty is just that. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good you gave it a try. You never know what my be passing by and what you get to see over the course of the night. Thank you, Steve πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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