Tips on Moth Hunting
Updated: Oct 2, 2021
Below are some notes on moth life hacks from various experts
Moth Lighting: In some 800 moth lighting attempts the past few years, I have tried MANY different lighting/sheet setups. By far, the best bang for your buck, as they say, is a UV source in the optimal spectrum for insects. What better solution than the globe replacement for a bug zapper. I have been exclusive to these (after an extensive comparison with LED, MV, etc.). Not only powerful attractants, but they are also cheap (under $30.00 AU) and easy to use and found in hardware stores often several brands are available from 13 to 50 watts. The Yard Guard 50 watt and 30-watt units are my go-to lights whether a permanent set on a verandah or for travel. They are screw-in Edison bulb (not bayonet) so you will need a matching light fixture. A terrarium light (from a pet shop) can be had for under $20.00 in Australia. Here is the Yard Guard 50 watt example ... https://www.bunnings.com.au/yard-guard-50w-replacement…
Topography: Movement on the part of many flying insects (and birds) may follow topographic lines. Furthermore, "hill-topping" is common to a number of Lepidoptera and a few Odonata (possibly other insects as well) whereby in navigating the landscape, there is a propensity to gravitate upslope. In mothing practice, I maintain two stations 4 km apart, one within 100 meters of the banks of the Manning River and a second along a shallow ridgeline. The ridgeline is treed well with gums with creeks on either side 250 and 350 m downslope with open grassy expanse between. These open stretches, including the river itself, serve as barriers to movement thereby narrowing the flight line. In one's own effort, on your property, you may wish to step back in your mind's eye and take a look at the landscape with regard to what habitat/topography mix is exposed to your light. I often run light on either side of the house on the hill with two completely different exposures. I can get markedly different results even though the lights are merely 30 meters apart. Placement then can be an issue.
Ambient Light: Another concern, is the ambient light you may contend with. My river site is just across from a primary school. In 2017 it was broken into and subsequently floodlighting was installed to my mind an excessive degree. Fortunately, it is of a type that attracts a relatively small variety of Leps. Nonetheless, I opt for the 50 watt UV to negate something of the ambient light, although it still does not perform well against a full moon30-watt