City Nature Challenge Australia Moth Night

Moth Trap (c) Jackie Beer

Let's make May 1st moth night around Australia. With all the drought and fires this summer it has definitely taken a toll on the insect population. You can check how they’re going by setting a trap (sounds bad but it’s harmless). The trap simply consists of a white sheet and bright light. There is no touching or keeping of the insects – just observe and take pictures, then shut the lights off and they will fly free. Your pictures are then uploaded to iNaturalist.

The best thing about Moth Night is that anyone can join in from around Australia – you don’t need to be in an official ‘City Nature Challenge’ area.

What you will need:

Grassland Copper Lucia limbaria (c) Jackie Beer

  1. iNaturalist account

  2. A camera/phone,

  3. A white sheet (preferably cotton – synthetic materials tend not to glow under black light the same way).

  4. A bright light (Black lights if you have it otherwise a white light will work well),

  5. Clamp or method to a hold light

  6. tripod, chair or similar to attach light,

  7. A torch

  8. An outdoor space open to the moths.

To start with you will need to hang the sheet – we suggest using the good old Hills Hoist or on a rope between two trees or similar. Clamp the light in front of the sheet facing an open area as this will broadcast further away and attract more moths. Turn off any other nearby lights, turn on the light near the white sheet and wait for the moths to arrive.

Taking photos

Aim for clear pictures of the moths. Preferred single shots of as many as you can however if you can get picture of the wings and the antennae you will be doing really well. Why antennae? Because there are some night flying butterflies too and they generally have delicate antennae with a clubbed end. Moths, on the other hand, generally (but not always) have feathery antennae.

Don’t forget to upload all of your sightings to iNaturalist. Check the location and identify as best you can. If you are unsure then leave it at the highest taxon (Lepidoptera) and someone will help you identify them. Moth hunting can commence once the sun sets (dusk). Remember to adjust your geoprivacy settings to “obscured” as you don’t want everyone to know where you live!

DO: Leave the light turned on for as long as you can. This is because different species of moths will come out at different times of the night.

Dont: Leave the light on ALL night because the birds will eat the moths at dawn (sun rise).

Please join in the fun. We would love to see what is in your area. It also helps us understand which host plants to grow. You can do it as many times as you like. But most of all, enjoy it! Kids love it too. Its fun to see them all on the sheets.

Happy Moth Night!



© California Academy of Sciences.

Some of the moths you might see…..

(c) Jackie Beer

Thank you, Jackie Beer for the use of your pictures and providing direction on the content and the idea for the moth night.

#Lepidoptera #Moth #urbangreen #urbanecology #citynaturechallenge #citizenscience

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