This is about following the children’s interests. The interest in moths came from Gramps. Gramps had books on moths which the boys enjoyed looking at.
Gramps then bought a very expensive moth trap. This is a special light that attracts the moths and they drop down into the trap that is filled with egg boxes. They then can’t escape because the gap is too small. This means the next morning they are all on the egg boxes so you are able to photograph and identify them before setting them free.
We couldn’t afford to buy a moth trap like Gramps so we got creative. Involving designing, building, and a little bit of wiring. We used some strong plastic to build the box which was screwed together. All free and recycled, the plastic came from an old business sign and the screws from Gramps’ collection. We the used some acetate at an angle (again recycled) to make the drop in for the moths. The trap was filled with egg cartons, you guessed it, all recycled.
The light was also a recycled bit of kit from a friends old fish tank that he was getting rid of. We wired it up to a plug and mounted it on some wood (scraps from the selection in the garage) to make it fit on the top of our trap. It may not look as pretty as the expensive trap, it may not be as compact for storage, it may not be able to go out in the rain due to the designers (us) not being able to figure out how to encase the electrics to be waterproof but it works. In fact it works so well that Gramps now has that one and we have the expensive one!!
So you pick any night, preferably a cloudy one as if the moon is bright you won’t get as many moths attracted if the moon distracts them. You can put the trap out whilst it is still light which gives you the chance to catch the dusk moths. We tend to leave ours out all night. In the morning they will all be nestled happily in the crevices of the egg cartons.
You do have to go out first thing in the morning though to look at, identify and photograph any moths as once the sun starts to warm their wings they will be gone. My boys find this bit fascinating, as the sun starts to warm them their wings start to shiver, like they are spreading the warmth, at that point you know they won’t be hanging around much longer.
I never knew until we started doing this last year just how many different moths there were, I confess that to me a moth was a moth. I am not so ignorant now! There are some real beauties out there. Sure some look the same as the next but some are colourful, some are camouflaged as sticks, some are furry, some are tiny. The differences in them all is amazing. There are even categories for body shapes depending on how they hold their wings at rest. One thing that amazes me the most is the fact that there is only a coupe of miles between our house and my parents and yet we get such different moths at our house to theirs.
If you wanted to give this a try I would recommend getting a book from the library. You can also use the website http://www.yorkshiremoths.info/portal/p/Flying+tonight which will tell you what it is likely to be as the list runs from most common to least. There are different ones for different areas, this is the one closest to me.
For us as a family this has given us another common interest, it has developed our knowledge of moths, made us think about the world around us and pushed us to get better at photography, especially those macro shots!