Building traps and attracting moths
Study SitesFinding a home for moth observation
Light traps are powered by electricity. Connect lights to an electrical power grid or a portable electric generator.
Light sources may be wired permanently into sheltering structures, or extension cables may be used to connect lights to remote sources of power.
A variety of light sources are available to amateur and professional naturalists.
Different light sources deliver different wavelngths of light at different intensities.
UV light and visible light are effective at attracting moths and other insects.
Mercury vapor lamps are efficient, long-lived light sources with the advantage of emmitting high-intensity visible light. A mercury vapor lamp requires a ballast to limit its circuit current. Some mercury vapor lamps are self-ballasted while others require an external ballast. A self-ballasted lamp is the only kind which can be safely operated by a direct connection to the power source.
Find mercury vapor lamps at home improvement shops, industrial retailers, and scientific supply stores.
Find UV lamps at home improvement shops.
Some choose to moth at home, by the light of porch lights while others erect traps in special sites purposed for mothing.
No matter the type of trap, a supportive structure is needed to fix the light source and accumulate moths. White, textured surfaces are best because they reflect the greatest amount of visible light and are easily gripped by incoming insects.
Bedsheets and plywood are good mothing structures.
Ambient light and other conditions like the full-moon can interfere with mothing. As a general rule, light traps are more successful when they compete less with other night time light.
Mothing is one of the safest way to enjoy nature. That's especially true if you moth at your own home. If you choose to moth away from home, we reccomend bringing with you a partner or two for safety. When it's dark outside, wear closed-toed shoes, and use a flashlight.
During the day, moths hide out in the vegetation. Your light trap will attract moths from the trees, grass, and other growth. We reccommend positioning your trap such that its light is not blocked by thick woods or big buildings. Hilltops or cleared areas overlooking woods and water are best.
This light trap is supported by a rope frame. Find someplace stable to tie down your rope and anchor your trap. Use the support beams on your porch, trees in the yard, or create your own anchor with hardware from home. If your trap is free-standing or unsheltered, realize that wind or rain can destabilize your construction or damage your materials.
Anchor your rope at four points, creating a rectangle.
Fold the sheet over the top side of the frame. A generous fabric overlap is best. With clothes pins, pin the sheet into place, all around the frame.
Anchor the light fixtures such that, in use, the lights hang about a third of the way from the top of the sheet and shine outward, bathing the sheet in light. Anchor the lights on the rope frame or elsewhere to improve the stability of your trap. Connect your lights wth a power source. An extension cable may come in handy. If your trap is unsheltered, keep in mind that your lights and other equipment could be damaged by rain.
We're using a
150W Metal Halide ACUITY LITHONIA fixture
Grainger Industrial Supply.
Inside the fixture, we use a
150W mercury vapor lamp.
These wall pack security lights use
SYLVANIA bright white 23W compact fluorescent bulbs
The red light switches, flexible conduit, and combination locks are all available from Lowe's.
White scrap plywood gives structure to this trap.
We think institutional sites are the most successful long-term moth sites. Institutions, either public or private, usually enjoy sustained support and funding while widely attracting the interest of the community. State parks, natural history museums, educational institutions, and nature centers are all good homes for mothing.
Members of your community, like teachers or professional naturalists, are good institutional contacts. Mothing appeals to institutions as a continuing- or informal-education experience that generates real scientific data. Try reaching out to institutions with an inexpensive plan to do a participatory-science project. Sometimes, institutions are willing to match the investment by private citizens or other groups to buy and install permanent lighting equipment. Local electricians may donate labor for this project, or other businesses may donate funds. Discover Life provides training, technology, and support to moth-observation sites.
Some groups already demonstrate an interest in science and nature. The National Audubon Society and other conservation groups monitor wildlife. Girl Scouts and Boys Scouts of America support outdoor recreation and environmental literacy with several badges. Reach out to groups like these; bring the birders over to "the dark side of life" and show the community how facinating and fun mothing can be.
|Discover Life | Top|
|© Designed by The Polistes Corporation|