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Flight-intercept trap

Flight-intercept trap
Wisconsin, USA
Size: ~6 feet tall
Flight-intercept traps are very effective for collecting insects. I have collected a large number of species in FITs that I would normally never have encountered.

This style consists of some plastic sheeting strung between two angle-iron fence posts. The collection troughs are garden planters available at most home-improvement stores. The troughs are partly filled with preservative (a propylene-glycol and water mixture). The troughs are secured (from tippage) by impaling sticks into the ground around them.

I have usually let the traps go for 2-3 weeks before servicing them. When servicing an FIT, I usually take a large pail, some hardware cloth, a sifter, some very fine screening (very small holes) and a container. I put the hardware cloth on top of the open end of the bucket. I put the sifter on top of the hardware cloth and put the screening into the sifter. I remove garbage (plant material, etc.) from the troughs and discard. I pick out the large specimens with forceps and put them into the container. I then proceed to pour the FIT trough contents extremely slowly through the screening in the sifter so as to avoid damage to the collected specimens. When I am done, I plop the screening (with all the strained specimens) into my container and add a little of the preservative.

FITs are especially effective if placed near fallen trees or in natural flyways.

Interesting technique and well done, Jeff.
Thanks so much for posting it.

Best wishes, ...


How many specimens do you get this way? Where do you locate such a trap? Most importantly, how do you prevent theft or vandalism? I collect in urban areas, and I don't think such a contraption would last a DAY, let alone a few weeks. Thanks for sharing the techniques!

You'll get a lot more specimens than you'll have time to deal with. Most of my specimens are sitting in alcohol vials in a cabinet in our museum. Good stuff. Sadly, I don't know if I'll ever be able to properly deal with them myself.

Preventing theft and vandalism is a key concern. Most of my trapping was done in State Natural Areas (with permission). I attempted to place traps out of sight from roads and paths, in obscured places. You also have to worry about wild animals tipping the troughs and damaging the plastic sheeting. That's why I drive sticks in around the troughs.

Urban areas would be tough, unless you can find an obscure, out-of-sight place. While I was down in AZ (visiting my parents) last February/March I scouted some places on the road (Hwy 289?) to Sycamore Canyon. Some spots looked very interesting but I decided it would be more work than I wanted to do, being that I was there only a week and it was very early in the season. There, of course, you have to worry about illegals and smugglers.

Lindgren-funnel traps also work great. They are more easily obscured, but in my experience you don't encounter as many species. Still worthwhile though, especially when baited (cantharidin, ipsdienol, rotting fruit, etc.).

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