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Moths and moth trapping

 

Ok - you might think this a weird pastime, and about as far from game development as you can get, but when I was at school I used to run the school moth trap. I always used to get a kick out of seeing what new species turned up every morning.

 

The trapping wasn't just for fun though, it also was part of a national moth survey scheme.

 

This trap had a mercury vapour light and was positioned in the school grounds next to the biology labs. Each day me, and a couple of others would sort through the trap's catch and identify it. Filling in forms for number caught  for each species, which were then dutifully sent off to a research lab in Rothamstead.

 

The trap we had back then was pretty crude, and the catch was always killed - using carbon tetrachloride - so that nothing would escape and we obtained a representative sample. This was common sampling practice back then and at the time we thought nothing of it. But nowadays I think back on this and think it sucked big time!

While it (among other activities at the time) fostered a life-long interest in natural history and love of moths, I always thought back on those times with regret that the moths didn't survive.

I've also always wanted to have the time to run a trap again.

 

Well in 2014 I bought a small portable live trap from  Anglican Lepidopterist Supplies (a company specializing in biological survey equipment like this) that keeps the catch alive for release the following day and began again.

 

The trap I bought was a portable folding trap made out of netting that could take a mercury vapour bulb. (You can see it to the right and top working in our garden).

 

I had great success with it, and had some great catches nightly catches, the image to the right shows it after a reasonable nights catch with the delta shape of a nice hawkmoth at the top in the middle. Unfortunately while good, after prolonged use the mesh began to show a bit of wear and needed frequent repairs.

 

Then, because I was enjoying it so much, my partner Jane gave me a superb present in the form of a proper full-size Robinson moth trap.

The Robinson trap is free-standing and one of the best , with large capacity and capable of some great catches.

You can see it Right and below. It's full of egg boxes as they make a great surface for moths to settle and shelter in after being caught.

 

I ran it for four months last year and  over that time found  over 16% of the British moth species lurking in/around/through our garden in Gloucestershire. I also found a crop of very large spiders living near the trap and discovered that the garden became a regular hunting ground for bats.

 

Currently it's a quiet time, there are a few species but there's not much going on.

 

At some time I'll create a complete list of all the species I've caught, but in the meantime here's a simple slideshow of some of the ones caught last year.

 

Sometimes it's the small things that give you pleasure, and they don't get much smaller than moths.

 

 :)