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FOR REVIEW: How To Attract Moths To Your Yard

Black Lights
--Findings on 6/12/2009
--Findings on 7/10/2009
--Findings on 7/16/2009
Glowing Eyes
How To Set Up A Black Light

Black Lights:

There are many ways to attract moths to your yard. One way is to set up an ultraviolet light, or black light. (see here) It attracts many different species of insects.

Here is a list of what I found at a black light in Lancaster Co, PA on June 12, 2009.

Green Geometer
White Geometer
Delicate Cycnia
Oregon Cycnia
Banded Tussock Moth
Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth
Fall Webworm Moth
Tufted Bird Dropping Moth
Nicrophorus pustulatus
Nicrophorus orbicollis
Asiatic Garden Beetle
Northern Masked Chafer
Danosoma brevicorne

Also, here is another list of my findings on 7/10/2009 when I set up a black light also in Lancaster.

Brown Geometers
Curve-toothed Geometer
White Geometers
Virgin Tiger Moth
Virginian Tiger Moth
Fall Webworm Moth
Banded Tussock Moth
Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Click Beetle
Dircaea liturata
Longhorn Beetle
Tussock Moth
Red-Lined Panopoda
Ichneumon Wasp
Diaperis maculata
Northern Masked Chafer
May Beetle
Asiatic Garden Beetle
Spotted Pelidnota
Bilobed Looper

Later, on July 16 I found:

Imperial Moth
Asiatic Garden Beetle
May Beetle
Northern Masked Chafer
Longhorn Beetle
Common Stonefly
Tulip-Tree Silkmoth

In conclusion, black lights are usually worth it to put up. They draw in a variety of beetles, large, medium, and small moths, and other insects.

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Glowing Eyes:

After reading John Himmelman's book, Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels In Your Own Backyard, I found that it is true that if you hold a flashlight around your forehead, you and only you will be able to see moths' eyes glow this color. This helps if you are trying to catch moths for any purpose. That is how I found this moth.

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Also, flowers attract moths. I have a white Butterfly weed, and it attracts some moths, such as the Squash Vine Borer and Eight Spotted Forester. Here is a link to some comments I made about butterfly weed. Butterfly bushes also attract cool moths, such as the Snowberry Clearwing, Hummingbird Moth, and Tobacco Hornworm. Sphinx moths and other moths also come to Phlox, moonflowers, evening primroses, and other flowers that are open at night.

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Another way to attract moths is bait. Bait is simply a sweet substance on a tree that attracts moths, such as Noctuids and Underwings. An easy way to make bait that works is to mix stale beer and brown suger and paint it on a tree, about a square foot at eye level. Another way is to smash a rotten watermelon onto a tree.(I found this out in Discovering Moths, in the sidebar, Sugaring For Moths.

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If you have squash plants, you may be lucky enough to attract a couple of Squash Vine Borers. (You might also be unlucky because they destroy squash plants.) Look on flowers near squash plants, or sitting on leaves in the shade. I have seen many.

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How To Set Up A Black Light:

First, here is what mine looks like:

Setting up a black light is easy, and worth it. First, you'll need something to hang the sheet and light on. Two trees work very nicely, but any two objects about 6 feet apart that are sturdy will do. Tie a rope tightly between the two objects. (If you have extra rope, you may not even have to tie it. Just wind the rope tightly. Then wind more rope tightly over the previous winding. Do this several times. This definitely works. That's how I always hang my rope, and it's never fallen.) Then attach a 6' by 4' sheet and the rope by about 4 clothespins. (have the 4' part be vertical.) What I do to set up the actual light is I hang a shop light that does not have to be hard-wired on the rope by chains. For more details, read the remarks on this page.
You may or may not get good results, but on a moonless ,windless, and hot night, chances are something will come.

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Feel free to comment.

Just curious, is when's the best time to do this?
Hi! My parents got me a backlight last week while we were on vacation!!! I'm just curious, if I left the light out until 3 in the morning, instead of bringing it in at 12 or 1, would there be new and different bugs there? I think I'm noticing that the later I wait, the more likely I'll find something more special than the common micromoths and may beetles, such as a longhorn beetle. (Not that I don't love micromoths) The main reason I'm asking is because I'm having trouble convincing my parents to let me stay up until 3, because they think I'll sleep the day away...

definitely keep it up
I put it up at dusk, and check it every hour or so. At 2 or 3 is the best time to find big moths and cool beetles I have found. You wouldn't necessarily have to stay up the whole night either, usually I set an alarm clock for 2 or 3 so I can get some sleep. Then I get up again at 5AM to look again and take it down. Most bugs that land in the night will stay on the sheet until about this time. Also this doesn't give the birds too much of a chance to eat bugs.

Cool Page!
May I ask which black light you use? I am having trouble finding a good one.

I use a
Lithonia Lighting shoplight, similar to this, with T12 UV bulbs that you should be able to find at a hardware store.

Attracting moths
How can I contact you more directly without going through this forum. I am interested in attracting moths better than I currently do (existing lights).

You can reach me through the website I run for local nature and environmental interests ( Anywhere it says to email us will get to me.

Evening primrose
The flowers open at twilight and bloom all night, I see sphinx moths at them a lot. Some night-blooming flowers are widely cultivated for "moon gardens" and the plants or seeds are available at nurseries or online.

Re: primrose
Supposedly, evening primrose is the host plant for larvae of the white-lined sphinx moth. We have an evening primrose, but I haven't seen adults or larvae at it or on it.

caterpillars on primrose
I once found some small caterpillars on primrose but wasn't able to rear them to adult. The foodplant was somebody's idea of a vacant-lot weed and got pulled up! I found another plant in a garden, but was pretty sure the gardener wouldn't like me yanking leaves off his plant on a daily basis. (So I just smuggled the caterpillars in after dark and left them on the plant...)

i added it.

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