Pheromone Lures: searching for Red-tipped Clearings

in Amazing Nature2 years ago (edited)

Following on from the previous Post regarding moth-trapping, there are other ways to attract moths. We know that Moths are attracted to light, so using a light to attract and trap moths is quite obvious. However, some species are more attracted to lights than others, so how can we attract those moths not interested in lights?

If you remember my post on the Lifecycle of the Vaporer Moth, you will know that the females can attract the males of their particular species by releasing Pheromones (a kind of 'chemical scent'). What if there was a way to replicate that pheromone?

Well now that you mention it, there is!

Don't ask me how its done... it requires brainy scientists, a laboratory, a concoction of chemicals and a lot of trial and error. Scientists have found a way to recreate the pheromone released by the females, and that can be used to attract and record male moths. This is particularly useful for species which are not seen very often such as the Clearwing (Sesiidae) family of moths.

These Pheromone lures are available for the general public to buy, so we did our research, found a suitable location and ordered a lure for the Red-tipped Clearwing Moth (Synanthedon formicaeformis). Using it is fairly straight forward:

Clearwing Trip8204.jpg

1 - Find a suitable habitat
The moths we were interested in like wet places (fens and marshes and rivers) and the caterpillars feed on various Willow tree species. In the picture is a river with some established Willow trees running down the side of it.


2 - Set up the lure up-wind of the location. We set up this hastily put together tripod of sticks near to the trees in such a position so that when the wind blew it blew the scent (from a little container in the white net) towards the tree where we hoped the moth would be.

Clearwing Trip8210.jpg

3 - And wait! Thats it, nice and simple.

The guidlines that came with the lure suggested that if the moths were close by they would visit the lure quickly. This means if we sit there for 30 minutes and not see anything, we need to move to a different location and set it up again.

Clearwing Trip8265.jpg

While waiting I spotted these Social Distancing Hoverflies (Eristalis sp)...

Clearwing Trip8271.jpg

...and this gorgeous Wasp Beetle! (Clytus arietis)

Well, 30 minutes are up, and no sign of any moths. We gather up our stuff and walk 100 yards down the path to another patch of Willow trees. We set up our lure again and settle down to wait and see what happens.

"wait! whats that little red thing over there!"

A quick swish of the net and success... we have seen our first Red-tipped Clearwing - Synanthedon formicaeformis

Clearwing Trip8228.jpg

A surprisingly delicate looking moth, it was very active in the warmth of the sunshine so I could only get these rubbish 'pot shots'. That was enough to identify the moth by the red tips on its wings which give it its name. After I got the pictures I then released the moth to hunt for a 'real' female

Another new species ticked off the list, and I can start planning the next trip...

Clearwing Trip8233.jpg

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This post is an entry for this weeks competition over at the Amazing Nature Comunity


Always enjoy reading your posts Dan. Always interesting and informative

Well I am aiming for vaguely informative and interesting, so its good to hear that Brian, thank you!

I was just thinking about how to attract moths and butterflies for photos and I saw your post.

Another way is to plant lots of wildflowers for your local butterflies to feed from, then you can get close to them to take photos :-)

It may be better to anoint a certain flower with honey and wait near it in Assad. The fact is that insects fly in and fly out and it's too fast, but I want them to linger on a certain flower or plant

Pheromones are very expensive in Germany and usually only available in large quantities. Where do you buy the pheromones ?

A place in the UK - ALS

They only have a small batch of lures each year, so they are starting to run out of stock now. There should be fresh supplies early spring next year.

Many thanks for the shop link and your info!

no worries, happy to help!

Hehe, well done .. actually synthesizing pheromones is not a complicated task ^^ I did it during my bachelor studies once, but I never utilized them for such an great purpose ;) .. This Red-tipped Clearwing is super beautiful !! Congratulation on catching it for identification, hehe

Haha, well you must be one of the 'brainy scientists' I am referring to then. And you have access to a lab which also helps 😉

You do a great job of research. Success.
I find the Wasp beetle beautiful. A hug @dannewton.