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Butterfly Conservation - Sussex Branch Butterfly Conservation Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre Sussex Wildlife Trust

Moth trapping - a practical guide:

moth trapping

This guide is a simple check-list to help you plan and manage a moth trapping event safely. However, it cannot take account of the actual level of each risk at particular sites, or of which hazards are present at specific locations. You should make adjustments and additions to incorporate those circumstances and needs at the site.

Before the evening

  • Check weather reports, change/cancel itinerary if appropriate.
  • Get the permission of the owner/agent to access the site.
  • Check with the owner/agent for details of any site hazards.
  • Check cabling for any evidence of damage to insulation e.g. from abrasion, burns, or gnawing.
  • Ensure equipment has been serviced.
  • Invite other moth recorders, rather than survey alone.
  • Make a note of the grid reference.
  • If working alone, notify your nominated 'Buddy' (partner/spouse/friend) of your movements, survey location and expected return time. Ensure that person knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

Recommended Equipment

  • Moth trap!
  • Torch (plus spare batteries)
  • Mobile Phone
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Trolley
  • Camera
  • A drink
  • Barrier cream/insect repellent
  • Rain covers
  • Protective equipment (gloves)

Upon Arrival (before it gets dark)

  • Notify the owner/agent if they are nearby.
  • Check conditions are suitable.
  • Identify any site hazards (pits, slopes, livestock, etc.)
  • Take account of site hazards and conditions and adapt plans accordingly.
  • If you do not have a mobile phone, give a thought to where the nearest telephone is located.

Setting Up

  • Ensure proper/safe lifting. Plan before any heavy/awkward item is moved. Do not overload.
  • Ensure cabling is safe and wiring is correct before use.
  • Prevent rain from contact with electricity supply and ensure that connections are waterproof.
  • Place lamps in safe and appropriate situation. Keep cables off paths.
  • Ensure that the bulb coating/glass filter is not cracked or removed; replace bulb if damaged.
  • Check all bulbs for hairline fractures, before use.
  • Use a rain shield in wet conditions.
  • Ensure you are wearing clothing appropriate to the conditions.

In case of Visitors

  • Advise visitors not to touch any equipment.
  • Advise visitors of all potential hazards (eg tripping on cables; wasps/hornets, generator, bulbs etc).
  • Advise visitors to avoid looking directly at bulb; and to allow eyes to adjust to darkness when moving away from lamp.

During survey

  • Do not look directly at bulb and allow time for eyes to adjust to darkness before moving around site.
  • Check traps/ropes for wasps/hornets before collecting moths.
  • Drink and eat.
  • In the event of rain switch off the equipment at the most safe point.
  • Stay with the survey equipment at all times.

Packing Up

  • Pack up slowly and carefully.
  • Do not overload.
  • Drive away carefully, noting where other people and hazards might be.

Back at home

  • Check for ticks.
  • Notify your 'Buddy' that the survey is over.

Follow Up

  • Contact owner/agent to thank them. Offer information about results (be positive).
  • Submit results to your County Recorder.

Further information

This article, by Steve Wheatley, was originally published in the Spring 2010 Sussex Moth Group Newsletter.

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