|Kevin and Steve bait a tree|
With the hot and dry conditions of the last month the moths have been scarce around the porch so we went high tech under the guidance of Dr. Barnhart. Step one was to try sugaring for moths. We painted trees with a sticky paste of rotten bananas, brown sugar, molasses and beer which had been fermenting for 4 days. This is designed to attract moths that are drawn to tree sap. It was a rousing success if your goal was to see a variety of ant species and the occasional bald faced hornet. Moths- not so much.
Next Chris set up a mercury vapor lamp and white reflective sheets to draw moths into the field. Insects see the world differently than we do and are drawn to black light and mercury vapor lamps which put out a different spectrum of light. The lamp created an eerie greenish glow, perfect for a Zombie party or an insect festival.
|Soldier bug on leaf hopper|
To me a highlight was the diversity of flying creatures drawn to the light. I wasn't the only one, as at least one bat circled overhead, holding a collecting event of its own.
While we didn't draw in any of the giant silk moths like those we are raising for the Butterfly House, the variety of sizes of moths was surprising. In addition to the small moths, the sheet was soon speckled with tiny "gnats" gathering like dust specks. Under Dr. Barnhart's macro lens these turned out to be tiny colorful moths.
Below you will see a Spiny Oak Slug moth that is only 2/5ths of an inch long. Unseen with the naked eye, the macro lens shows a colorful speck at its hind foot. Enlarged on the right you can see a tiny banded insect, a tenth of an inch long, possibly a Three-banded leafhopper, Erythroneura tricincta.
|Spiny Oak Slug Moth- Click to enlarge|
|Three-banded leafhopper ?|