Finally, I've found the time to deploy my new toy!...Yes!...the moth trap has, at last, been put to use! (twice)..but, as you'll notice from the blog title, my first foray into the world of moth traps and mothing didn't go as smoothly as expected!!
The first night I set the trap up and turned the light on at around 10pm. It was a warm night so the excitement and expectations of a good catch were high, in fact the excitement was so high that I barely slept and was up and out at first light (4.45am!) to see what delights awaited.
Well, there were moths everywhere...in the trap, on the trap even on the sheet I'd placed under the trap! Then it suddenly dawned on me; what am I going to do with all these moths? It hadn't occurred to me that I needed a container to store each individual moth in prior to photographing them.
So it was into the kitchen and a rummage (quietly, as my wife was still upstairs in the land of nod and wouldn't have been best pleased if I'd woken her up three hours 'early'!) through the cupboards for any sort of plastic container, pot, cup or tin...and the lids (why are lids not stored in the same place as their partners??)
|Two forms of the same moth|
So, back outside with my varied collection of containers and it's time to 'round up' the moths!...no problem!...night flying moths, they're lethargic and sleepy during the day, should be easy just to scoop them up into the containers and pop on the lid, right?...Wrong!! Keeping in mind that we are experiencing the hottest spell of weather that we've had for the last 30 years or so and even at this early hour the temperature was starting to rise and the moths on the outside of the trap were not a bit 'sleepy'.. one touch and they were gone! I did, with a little stealth, manage to capture a couple of the slower ones. Now, pre-prepared that it might be tricky, it was time to tackle the ones inside the trap, I counted, through the plastic baffles, at least 35 visible moths and assumed that there would be more 'hiding' in the egg boxes that I'd placed in the bottom of the trap. I slowly slid out one of the baffles and WHOOSH! 90% of the visible ones had also gone! Hmmm!..not going well! I slowly lifted out the first egg box and to my surprise clinging to it were four or five largish moths, now another problem arose do I try getting them into the containers or do I photograph them in situ? at least if I photographed them now I would have some sort of record! I decided to opt for the latter and tried to place the egg box in a favourable position for the best light and view. That done I now proceeded to try and get the moths into the containers...I'd read that if you hold the container under the moth and give the object that it's resting on a sharp tap the moth will fall off into the container...yeh, it worked fine, for the ONE moth over the container all the others clinging to the egg box had nothing to drop into and were... GONE! And they don't need to fly..the ones that dropped to the floor turned into winged race horses and promptly galloped off to the nearest cover!
|This one 'posed'|
In the end I managed to 'capture' about 25 different moths, some of them medium sized macros and some smaller micro moths.
Now the next problem arose...How to get some 'proper' photos? As the sun was now well and truly up, and the light was good, I decided to set up some different 'props' around the garden. Good idea?...no not really!...the first moth I tried to 'tap' out of its pot just flew away! The next good idea(!) was to coax the moth out of the pot by getting it to cling to a small paint brush and then transferring it to a suitable position for a photograph!...this worked apart from the time it took for me to put down the container and brush and to pick up the camera far outweighed to attention span of the moth and...yeh!...it flew away!!
To add insult to injury my wife was now up, ready and off to work, but not before she'd had a good laugh at the sight of me trying to get an uninterested bunch of moths to pose for their pictures! I'd read that if you put the moth filled containers in the fridge for a while it does them no harm, but cools them down and makes them docile and easier to 'work' with!
So, with the fridge loaded it was time for a cup of tea, some breakfast and a rethink.
Suitably refreshed..me..not the moths! I thought perhaps indoors would be a better place to take the photos, there was good light in the kitchen...right next to the fridge..perfect!...uhmmm...what do we do when we're cold?..we shiver! What does a moth do when it's cold and fresh out of the fridge? it shivers!! to be more precise it vibrates it's wings to warm up the muscles...before...it flies away!!
|Another one that 'posed' properly!|
With some perseverance I did manage to get some, just passable, record shots. The only downside was that I now had a house full of moths, on the ceilings and hunkering down into the folds at the top of the curtains!... Who'd have thought to shut the kitchen door?...it took me quite a few minutes rounding them up and getting them back into the containers.
The second time that I put out the trap I was a little more prepared, I'd been out and bought loads of small plastic pots (and lids!) the problem this time was that I'd not taken into consideration that it was the night before a full moon and the night sky was crystal clear with a bright shiny moon competing with my puny little 40 watt bulb so I only 'caught' about 20 moths. as the morning was a bit cooler I did manage to have more time to quickly snap the moth's before they made their getaway! again though only meagre record shots!
The next big problem was IDing all the moths that I'd managed to photograph... using my trusty reference book and the internet this took a lot, lot longer than I thought it would! Have you noticed that the subjects pictured in the reference books look nothing like the subjects in the images that you've taken?
So, lots of mistakes made, lots of lessons learned and lots of problems to solve, mainly how to set up the moths and backgrounds for a decent photograph! (Any ideas welcomed!) Did I enjoy it?..you bet I did!..I've seen around 35 different moths that I would probably never have seen otherwise and there's a possibility of seeing many more.
Time will tell!