Catching Moths In The Night

Hey Folks!

Long time no blog. We have been super busy here at BIO in the past few weeks.  Between field work, the rare BioBlitz, and the Barcoding Conference, it has been pretty crazy here lately! There will be lots of blogs coming your way from our staff about all these fun topics.   I myself have been doing a lot of night collecting in the form of Bucket Traps and Night Sheets. The names of these traps leave a lot to the imagination so I will explain further. Night collecting is done as the name suggest, at night. This allows you to use light as an attractant to lure in all the creepy crawlies that prefer roaming in the dark.

Bucket traps are actually a little more complicated than the name implies.  To set this up correctly, you need a large bucket, a funnel that fits in the bucket, a black light, a power source, a jar of ethyl acetate, and a piece of sponge. Sounds like a lot of random equipment, but I promise it all comes together.

The black light is propped up above the bucket. Below the light is the funnel which is situated in the bucket. Inside the bucket is the jar of ethyl acetate with a small hole in the lid. The piece of sponge is put through the hole in the lid, submerging half of it into the ethyl acetate with the other half exposed to the air inside the bucket.  The trap is usually placed in an area with a lot of visibility such as a field or an open forest.  The moths see the light from all around during the night and fly to it. Once they get to the light, they take in the fumes from the ethyl acetate. They then get dizzy and fall down through the funnel, which there they usually die. Then in the morning we collect the moths and bring them back to BIO!

This is a bucket trap all set up and ready to go. If situated in the right spot, these lights can attract insects from many meters away
This is a bucket trap all set up and ready to go. If situated in the right spot, these lights can attract insects from many meters away
Here are the spoils that we collected in a bucket trap one night from rare. It was a warm night so there were quite a few specimens collected
Here are the spoils that we collected in a bucket trap one night from rare. It was a warm night so there were quite a few specimens collected

The night sheets work in a similar way except there are people there to collect the specimens off of the sheet instead of killing them with ethyl acetate. There is a flexible pole situated in an arc that you attach a white sheet to. Then you anchor it with some string and tent pegs. A light is situated on one side of the sheet which attracts all kinds of flying insects. The night sheet does well in similar places as the bucket traps. The more the visible the light is, the better.

The bucket traps were all done previous to the Sunday of the Bioblitz in order to have some specimens for experts to look through during the day. The night sheets were set up for the experts to actively collect on the Sunday night. We had 9 separate night sheets set up all over rare for the Bioblitz, so we sure attracted a lot of specimens!

Here is Mikko Pentinsaari, a Coleopteran expert from Finland. This night sheet was set up right outside of the barn at rare
Here is Mikko Pentinsaari, a Coleopteran expert from Finland. This night sheet was set up right outside of the barn at rare

That’s it for me this week. Stay tuned to see what everyone else at BIO has been up to the past couple of weeks. There should be some good ones coming your way!

Thanks for reading,

Dan

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