trapping moths

The Moth Trap Diaries

I feel sorry for moths. They’re like the butterflies’ less popular little brother. I’ve heard many people talking up the undeniable beauty of butterflies, but gloss over the moth population.

I love moths, and I’ve always thought them just as pretty a creature as any butterfly.

I’ve been setting a moth trap recently, to try and gauge the local population, and maybe pick up a few of the more intriguing night-flying moths.

Elephant Hawk Moth
The first to find its way into the moth trap was an Elephant Hawk moth, with its bright pink colouring. I had three elephants in the first couple of days’ trapping.

moth trap diaries

Privet Hawk Moth
The following day, brought a privet hawk moth. These moths are very distinctive, and their wingspan can reach 12cm. This chap wasn’t that big, but the biggest of the privet hawks I’ve caught over the past week.

moth trap diaries

Garden Tiger Moth
The most exciting visitor, however, was this Garden Tiger Moth. It is always good to see a Garden Tiger, as the population of these moths has fallen by an estimated 92% over the last 40 years.

trapping moths

Garden Tigers are also rather nostalgic for me, as they are responsible for my moth bothering tendencies. When me and my brother were kids, dad used to set a trap and we’d excitedly rush to check it before school. One morning we had 9 of these, and I’ve loved moths ever since.

Common Emerald and Swallow-Tailed Moths
I’ve taken great pleasure from the less striking moths too. The colours of many moths are more subtle than butterflies. I love the pastel tones of this Common Emerald…

how to trap a moth

…as well as this Swallow-Tailed moth.

moth trap diaries

IDing the moths that you catch is a big part of the fun. I’ve found the UK Moths website to be a useful source as it has a search engine that will bring up moths by markings and colours.

The Moth Trap
The trap is borrowed from my dad and is a bit, Heath Robinson. You pack cardboard inside for the moths to rest on, and the moths fly towards the light and then land inside the trap.

the moth trap

Once IDed in the morning, it is important to put the moth out of the shade and out the sight of any birds. The moth will sleep until dusk and then fly off into the evening.

Moth trapping is strangely addictive, and easy too. I live in an (albeit rural) town, with houses all around, yet the trap is full of all sorts of different moths every morning. I reckon it is a truly great thing to do with a little ‘un, and brilliant for getting them interested in wildlife.

I posted the pictures on my personal Facebook page, and they were really well received. People were asking lots of questions, and in my own little way, I’d like to think I’ve done my bit to boost the street cred of moths. 🙂

4 thoughts on “The Moth Trap Diaries”

  1. I’ve found our bathroom makes a good moth trap. I have a great pic of a swallowtail from a few nights ago 🙂

    The UK Moths website is very good isn’t it? I’ve had problems IDing using my insect book because the illustrations show moths pinned out rather than how they look at rest in the garden, moth trap or bathroom.

  2. That is completely intriguing and think moth trapping has to go onto my wish list of things to do. Amazing that the elephant hawk moth came your way so easily.

  3. Wow, Jono… II want to go and make one now! That looks so interesting and who’d have thought there’d be such beauties on your peninsula!

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