Light trap on-the-go

One way to collect moths is with a light trap. They consist of a bucket, a funnel, a blacklight, and some barriers that the moths run into. They typically look something like this:

Made by

The goal is for the moths to be attracted to the blacklight, hit one of the metal plates, and tumble through a funnel into the bucket. There can either be a killing agent in the bucket, or the moths can be captured alive (though you’ll want to have some egg cartons for the moths to climb on so they don’t destroy each other by fluttering). This type of collecting is good for ecological studies, trying to find a rare species, or to attract something that only flies late at night (and you are not willing to stay out that late).

I thought a light trap would be useful for my Texas trip, but there was no way we wanted to bring another large box or suitcase. We thought about mailing a trap down to a collaborator, but that would be fairly expensive. Instead we deconstructed a non-functioning light trap we found in a back room, and bought some supplies when we arrived.

IMG_0041 copyWe brought the acrylic plates, hooks, a funnel, and a blacklight. At Walmart we bought a bucket and a pool noodle, and we were in business.

IMG_0045 copyThe purpose of the pool noodle was to ensure a tight seal between the funnel and the bucket, so nothing could escape. The battery we bought fit perfectly into a beer cooler, so the whole set up became quite portable and easy to take apart. Success!

With access to the right starting materials (acrylic panels, springs and hooks, a funnel and a blacklight) I would do this again in a heartbeat for a long collecting trip. Those all fit easily into a suitcase. At the end we recycled the bucket, left the battery with a collaborator (can’t fly with a battery, sadly), and took the rest of the materials home.

Have you created your own blacklight trap? Do you have a design that is easy to take apart and transport? I’d love to get more ideas for next time.

Posted on June 12, 2013, in Texas trip 2013 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Where did you purchase the light? and how much was it? I’m trying to find a cheap light source to make 6 of these light traps, but I can’t find any cheap ones! Thank you.

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Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.

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