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Light Traps

                  Looking for an example light trap? Skip to Quick Moths · Long-Term Lights
Light traps have three main parts.

Choose Where

Consider these before you set-up.

Quick Moths

Attracting moths is easy! This simple light trap is inexpensive, adaptable, and easy to erect.

What you'll need
  • a twin-sized bed sheet
  • a UV light fixture
  • a CFL light fixture
  • a length of rope
  • clothes pins
You might also like
  • an extension cable
  • nails or screws
  • washers or eyelets
  • zip-ties

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

  1. Find an Anchor

    This light trap is supported by a rope frame. Find someplace stable to tie down your rope and anchor your trap. Use the support beams on your porch, trees in the yard, or create your own anchor with hardware from home. If your trap is free-standing or unsheltered, realize that wind or rain can destabilize your construction or damage your materials.

  2. Tie the Frame

    Anchor your rope at four points, creating a rectangle.

  3. Add the Sheet

    Fold the sheet over the top side of the frame. A generous fabric overlap is best. With clothes pins, pin the sheet into place, all around the frame.

  4. Add the Lights

    Anchor the light fixtures such that, in use, the lights hang about a third of the way from the top of the sheet and shine outward, bathing the sheet in light. Anchor the lights on the rope frame or elsewhere to improve the stability of your trap. Connect your lights wth a power source. An extension cable may come in handy. If your trap is unsheltered, keep in mind that your lights and other equipment could be damaged by rain.

Long-Term Lights

Make your trap last. Here's how we did it at Sandy Creek Nature Center

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

We moth at a building called Walker Hall. The building is relatively small and isolated. Because mothing at Sandy Creek is a community research effort, we designed this site for use by the general public. On the backside of the building (shown above) we use a powerful light trap with a mercury vapor lamp. The front porch (shown left) uses a weaker light trap and models mothing at home with plain porch lights.

Traps on both sides of the building are supplemented with compact flourescent wall pack lights that provide work light when moth'ers are on-site and the mercury vapor lamp is switched off.

Exterior light switches guarded with combination locks give moth'ers access to lights without access to Walker Hall.

click to enlarge

Big Light

We're using a
150W Metal Halide ACUITY LITHONIA fixture
available from
Grainger Industrial Supply.
Inside the fixture, we use a
150W mercury vapor lamp.

click to enlarge

Little Light

These wall pack security lights use
SYLVANIA bright white 23W compact fluorescent bulbs
available from

click to enlarge

Other Materials

The red light switches, flexible conduit, and combination locks are all available from Lowe's.
White scrap plywood gives structure to this trap.

Costa Rica

You think you have too many moths? At our UGA Costa Rica site we photograph 600+ nightly!
It's another example of long-term moth-observation. Details coming soon!

Study Sites

Find a permanent home for moth observation


People get together and moth! Who are these people, and how do we involve them?

Updated: 22 May, 2014
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