Moth Night, biodiversity after-dark
Updated: Oct 2, 2021
Moth Trap (c) Jackie Beer
Let's make October 23rd moth night around the southern hemisphere. Climate variation, has been taking a toll on the insect populations across the globe populations. You can check how they’re going in your local area by setting a trap (sounds bad but it’s harmless). The trap simply consists of a white sheet and bright light. There is no touching or keeping of the insects – just observe and take pictures, then shut the lights off and they will fly free. Your pictures are then uploaded to iNaturalist.
The best thing about Moth Night is that anyone can join in from around Australia – you don’t need to be in an official ‘Great Southern BioBlitz’ area.
What you will need:
Grassland Copper Lucia limbaria (c) Jackie Beer
Join the project on iNaturalist - Moth Night 2021 -A Great Southern Bioblitz Project
A white sheet (preferably cotton – synthetic materials tend not to glow under black light the same way).
A bright light (Black lights if you have it otherwise a white light will work well),
Clamp or method to a hold light
tripod, chair or similar to attach the light,
An outdoor space open to the moths.
To start with you will need to hang the sheet – we suggest using the good old Hills Hoist or on a rope between two trees or similar. Clamp the light in front of the sheet facing an open area as this will broadcast further away and attract more moths. Turn off any other nearby lights, turn on the light near the white sheet and wait for the moths to arrive.
Aim for clear pictures of the moths. Preferred single shots of as many as you can however if you can get pictures of the wings and the antennae you will be doing really well. Why antennae? Because there is some night flying butterflies too and they generally have delicate antennae with a clubbed end. Moths, on the other hand, generally (but not always) have feathery antennae.
Don’t forget to upload all of your sightings to iNaturalist. Check the location and identify as best you can. If you are unsure then leave it at the highest taxon (Lepidoptera) and someone will help you identify them. Moth hunting can commence once the sun sets (dusk). Remember to adjust your geoprivacy settings to “obscured” as you don’t want everyone to know where you live!
DO: Leave the light turned on for as long as you can. This is because different species of moths will come out at different times of the night.
Don't: Leave the light on ALL night because the birds will eat the moths at dawn (sunrise).
Please join in the fun. We would love to see what is in your area. It also helps us understand which host plants to grow. You can do it as many times as you like. But most of all, enjoy it! Kids love it too. Its fun to see them all on the sheets.
Happy Moth Night!
© California Academy of Sciences.
Some of the moths you might see…..