An introduction to Moth Trapping - Part Two: Trapping in Progress

in #dna2 years ago

This is Part Two in a series of articles looking into Moth Trapping for recording purposes, Part 1 dealt with setting up the trap ready for the session, which you can read about Here

Now that we are all setup, and the sun has finally set (about 9:45 at this time of year) we are ready to go.

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First to arrive are the flies and caddisflies, which is a good sign as they only really fly in good weather conditions. This is one of the Crane Flies (something like a Tipula sp I think). While I am looking for moths, I will still record any other species of invertebrate that appears...

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... including this pair of Summer Chafer Beetles (Amphimallon solstitialis) who were...um...quite busy!

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And some moths start appearing. This distinctive looking Tishaped moth is a Common Plume, one of several I have already seen this year. I am confident with the ID so I add him straight to the spreadsheet.

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And another moth! This looks like a Willow Beauty (Peribatodes), but there are several similar species, so I'll pot this one and have a better look in the morning. Which reminds me, I need to mention the use of pots while trapping...

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While some moths are easy to identify (ID) lots of species are much harder to ID. This means need get a closer look at them, and this is easier to do the following morning. Therefore any that I cannot name straight away will be placed into the Fridge over night. It might sound cruel, but it is actually for the moths benefit. The cool temps of the fridge, will slow the moths down, meaning that they don’t waste their energy flapping all night and therefore they damage themselves banging around in pots.

This technique is most useful while trapping in summer, in winter it can often be 1C or 2C at night which is actually colder than the fridge, which makes this technique pointless. Some Winter Moths have been known to fly in temps of -3C. So the cold doesn’t hurt them.

Some of the moth trappers I know will use the freezer for a few seconds to calm the moths down, although in my opinion it is a method that is too risky, and a very real chance of the moth dying, so I refuse to go that far.

Enough waffling, I can see some more moths out there now!

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Wait a minute! Is that what I think it is?

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Yes it is! This is an Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor. These are amazing to see, and whenever someone tells me moths are boring, I always so them this one. The bright green and flamboyant pink colours would put most butterflies to shame.

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What else do we have? Ah yes here is a Fan-foot Herminia tarsipennalis...

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... and then a Heart & Dart Agrotis exclamationis. Both of these moths are easy to ID, so I put them straight into the spreadsheet.

Comming to the end of the session now. Some moth trappers will go to bed reasonably early, and then get up before first light the following day to inspect the trap. I do it differently, staying up until 2pm and then turning everything off.

I wanted to share a picture of the process of turning the trap off, but unfortunately some really heavy rain started at midnight. Having already caught a few interesting moths, I decided to call it off then and bring the trap in.

After a frantic and very wet 15 minutes, I have got everything inside, and put any moths found in pots in the fridge. I headed off to bed and will start on books in the morning, which you will see in Part 3.
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When I was looking for a light trap a few years ago I also came across various products and especially building instructions from England. In the end I decided on a lighthouse with super arctic light. Such a light trap with eggcups in the ground also has its charm, because you don't have to stay with it all the time and you can check the result in the morning. Do you have any experience with LED light?
P1899401.jpg

I've not seen anything like that, its a really interesting design. I have heard lots of good things about LED lights, but they had only just appeared on the market when I bought my current trap. So I decided to play safe and get a 'standard' one. I suspect, when I need to update/replace it I will go for an LED trap. I know they need a lot less energy to run which would mean a smaller cheaper battery, which would make it easier to use in the field.

Certainly both variants have their advantages. My lighthouse is 2 m high and shines 360°.I can adjust the light variably and also use 160 W mixed light at home. In nature, this is of course not possible because a current generator is necessary. Then I use 3 converted rod lamps with super arctic cold light tubes. For the power supply I have a 12V accu. But also this one is heavy and not suitable for longer distances in the terrain. Very interesting is this LED lamp. Unfortunately the page is only in German. Google can help with the translation:
https://www.fiebig-lehrmittel.berlin/epages/78318852.sf/de_DE/?ViewAction=ViewPaged&ObjectID=49407744&PageSize=1

Oh wow! Powered by AA bateries?! That is very interesting indeed. One of the the local recorders here uses a 'wigwam' shapped design. It is three 2 metre poles set up in a tripod shape with a white sheet hung around it. Inside was suspended a MV light bulb, and all the moths landed on the outside. The light you have shared would be perfect for that design. To be able to use batteries as well would be perfect. I have never trapped out in the field by myself due to limitations with my equipment... this would change all that.

Thank you so much for your suggestion!

Very nice post! Thank you!

Thank you. I have joined the dna discord thing (under the user name 'sparrowhawk') but I'm not quite sure what to do next. Do I post links to interesting articles, do I share my own posts... or is it just a place to talk about the 'amazing nature' community

Sorry for lots of questions, I'm still quite new to this still

Oh, I missed you there, sorry. Your posts are really great! I wish you could be a part of our organisation if only you have some extra time to spare!!
DNA's Discord Server, the one you just joined is a home to Nature related communities including @adalger's Amazing Nature.
Our aim is to encourage people to look around them and enjoy the natural spleandour while also trying to do some serious work for cataloging biodiversity. We are still not very old, and are non-profit, so we are still working on ways to deliver on our aims.

Our discord server is also a place where we hold competitions and do general discussion and socializing with like minded nature-lovers!!

I hope you'll enjoy being a part of our Discord Server.
Thanks and regards,
M.Medro

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