Friday, September 08, 2006

Moth Night

Tonight I attended a "Moth Night" at the East Brunswick Butterfly Park hosted by the East Brunswick Environmental Commission. They had one a few weeks ago that I unfortunately missed, so I was excited when they scheduled this "encore".

The concept of a "Moth Night" is to set up a mercury vapor light with a large white sheet to attract moths. In addition to the sheet, they painted several trees with a "delicious" mixture of beer, rum, sugar, and rotten fruit. You can find a recipe here.

I arrived at 9:00 to find the light already set up and several people looking at the sheet. The sheet was covered in many tiny moths and several larger ones, about 1" in width. The sheet also attracted crickets, a tiny moth caterpillar, katydids, beetles, and wasps. There was a surprising lack of mosquitos, although I did get a few bites.

We hit the trail to see the baited, or "sugared", trees. These usually attract a different set of species than the light. We found some larger species on these including a very large member of the "Underwing" group (genus Catocala). Unfortunately, I did not get to photograph the species and all of the photos I took of the sugared trees came out awful. Other species we saw on the trees (that I can remember) include Copper Underwing and Yellow-striped Armyworm.

The night was a great experience and something that I wanted to do for a long time. I'm glad that a local group has finally done something for the moths. It was also great to see a lot of families bringing their kids to see the moths. This is probably the last one for this year, but I look forward to next year.

A parasitic wasp

This Monarch Caterpillar was on some Swamp Milkweed

1 comment:

MojoMan said...

Moth night sounds like a very fun and very different way to spend the evening. Thanks for the idea. See my post "The Last Firefly" for a differnt way to treat night time insects.