Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Moth Light Brings All The Bugs to the Yard

Some people simply see moths as a pest that they want to keep away from their wool or as a visitor to their porch light. While most moths are not very colorful like their butterfly cousins, they are beautiful in their own way and are very interesting critters. In an effort to learn more about the moths in my yard, I invested a few bucks and created a somewhat portable moth light. Its only requirement is a power outlet and a place to hang the sheet. The idea is that the light attracts moths and other insects to a white sheet for easy viewing. Here are the materials I used:

  • 2 work lights with clamps. I happened to have these already, but they
    are about $5-7 at the hardware store
  • Black light bulbs – I got these CFL ones at Wal-mart (sorry Wal-mart haters, but no place else had them). If you could find a bigger bulb, you may not need two bulbs.
  • An old tripod – a new one would work too. I use this as a stand for
    the lights, so many things could serve this purpose.
  • A white sheet – 100% cotton is preferred because it glows best with
    the black light

IMG_4755 I set this up in our little condo “backyard” in Auust by stringing a rope between a fence and the house. I turned it on just as it was getting dark and waited a while. Even after 15 minutes, small micromoths started to come. Within 30 minutes, moths started to show up and some other insects too. Here is a taste  of what was seen. Thanks to Seabrooke Leckie for help with most of the IDs. Have you tried this yourself? I was amazed how easy it was.

5156 - Nomophila nearctica - Lucerne Moth -025156 - Nomophila nearctica - Lucerne Moth


9666 - Spodoptera frugiperda - Fall Armyworm Female - 02

9666 - Spodoptera frugiperda - Fall Armyworm (Female)


9669 - Spodoptera ornithogalli - Yellow-striped Armyworm PROBABLY9669 - Spodoptera ornithogalli - Yellow-striped Armyworm PROBABLY


 5552 – Galasa nigrinodis – Boxwood Leaftier Moth - 01 5552 – Galasa nigrinodis – Boxwood Leaftier Moth


Myodocha serripes - Long-necked Seed BugMyodocha serripes - Long-necked Seed Bug


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation on setting up a moth light, definitely something I will try in the future!

What camera/lens did you use to take the photos? They came out really nice!

Dawn Fine said...

Hee your title!
Have never tried a moth light..looks like fun.

Jennifer W. Hanson said...

I had hoped to try something like this this summer but didn't get around to it. Maybe next year... I'm glad to see you're getting into moths; most of those species are ones that I've found around my condo.

Patrick B. said...

Featherflower - It's actually just a small Canon digital ELPH. I don't have the right lens for my SLR. I guess I need a macro preferably with a ring flash. My only complaint is that the photos come out a bit too bright.

Dawn - It's fun because you never know what will show up.

Jennifer - Definitely try it. It's a small investment for a lot of fun.

Jennifer W. Hanson said...

Photo tip: if you have an overly-bright flash, try taping a piece of tracing paper or something similar (translucent paper) over the flash. A friend of mine discovered this workaround for muting the flash of a Canon A620 (which can be very harsh on macro subjects without mediation). That way you get the extra illumination of the flash without blowing out the photo entirely.

Patrick B. said...

GREAT tip. I will try it.

John B. said...

I recognize a lot of those moths. If you're not keen on Walmart, it's possible to find CFL blacklights at Loew's (and probably Home Depot).

dguzman said...

OH SWEET! How did I miss this post, especially with that great title! Nice work, sir!