The Technical and Performance Characteristics of a Low-Cost, Simply Constructed, Black Light Moth Trap.


The universal mercury vapor black light trap is an effective device used for collecting moth specimens in a wide variety of habitats; yet, they can present challenges for researchers. The mercury vapor trap is often powered by a heavy automotive battery making it difficult to conduct extensive surveys in remote regions. The mercury vapor trap also carries a considerable financial cost per trap unit, making trapping challenging with low research budgets. Here, we describe the development and trapping properties of a lighter, simply constructed, and less expensive trap. The LED funnel trap consists of a funnel, soda bottles with plastic vanes, and is powered by rechargeable 9-V batteries. Two strips of low-wavelength LEDs are used as attractants. We tested the trapping parameters of this trap design compared to a standard mercury vapor trap over 10 trap nights in a suburban woodlot in the summer of 2015. The mercury vapor trap caught significantly more moth individuals than the LED trap (average of 78 vs 40 moths per trap night; P < 0.05), and significantly more species than the LED trap (23 vs 15 per trap night; P < 0.05); the mercury vapor trap caught a total of 104 macromoth species over the duration of the study, compared to a total of 87 by the LED trap. Despite the lower yields, the low cost of the LED trap (<$30 ea.) makes it superior to the mercury vapor trap in cost-acquisition per moth species and per moth individual trapped. The LED trap may be a viable alternative to the standard mercury vapor trap, facilitating insect trapping in more diverse settings.

MIDAS Network Members