You’ve probably heard of the phrase, “like a moth to a flame.” The good news for you if you’re interested in insects is that you don’t need to start a fire to attract moths – any light source will do! A backyard moth light trap is an easy and fun way to attract a vast diversity of moths to photograph and identify.
“Birders” have to bushwhack to spot interesting feathered species, “herpers” (people who search for amphibians or reptiles) have to wade through swamps, but lepidopterists (people who study or collect butterflies and moths) just have to sit back at home and wait for the species to flutter in.
To set up your light trap, you’ll need an old white bed sheet or a white pail that you’ll hang in your backyard. Next, set up an outdoor light source to shine on the sheet or pail to attract moths. Then head outside either late at night or early in the morning to examine the species you’ve charmed.
Don’t be overwhelmed with moth identification; there are many great tools to utilize that make your hobby a little less intimidating. iNaturalist is an easy-to-use app that lets you upload photos of your wildlife discoveries and receive identification suggestions based on image recognition. There are also many excellent field guides for people that prefer flipping through books and reading about natural history more in-depth.
We’d love to see your moth light trap and the species you attracted! Share your photos with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter – be sure to tag @yourriverwood in your posts. Happy insect identifying!