Years ago, when I was working at Rondeau Provincial Park, I tried sugaring for moths. This entailed mixing up a solution of stale beer, sugar and overly ripe fruit (a banana worked really well) and spreading it on the trunk of a tree. As the darkness set in, moths would be attracted. The highlights for those times were the underwing moths (Catocala species), a large group of medium-sized moths that looked quite drab until they opened their wings to reveal a bright pink or white upper surface of the hind wings. I was moderately successful in attracting some of the Catocalas, but more successful in attracting some of the numerous raccoons! In the classic work "The Moth Book: A guide to the Moths of North America" by W. J. Holland, the author gives a fascinating, descriptive account of sugaring for moths. It was one of the main ways old time collectors found moths to add to their collections or to learn about the moth fauna of a particular area.
For this exercise, however, I dug out my black-light tube, set it up in the back yard to reflect on a suspended white sheet, and see what arrived. The black light was on for slightly more than three hours, beginning at about 9:30 p.m. Some of the insects were photographed on the white sheet, some were on the aluminum ladder on which the black-light was suspended and some were photographed on the blacklight itself (the ones with the blue mesh).
Warm, cloudless nights with little or no wind are ideal, and it was like that the night I chose. Given the relative dryness of the year to date, I wasn't sure what to expect, especially since butterflies were noticeably in lower numbers this year.
(Note: Identification for some species that follow is somewhat tentative, but based on the best references I had to use. References mainly included:
-Insects: their natural history and diversity (Stephen A. Marshall)
-Peterson Field Guide to Moths (Beadle and Leckie)
-Beetles of Eastern North America ( A. V. Evans)
-Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids and Crickets of the United States (Capinera, Scott and Walker)
It wasn't long before the first insects appeared. A medium sized beetle showed up almost immediately and stayed the entire time.
Other beetles (Coleoptera) were reasonably abundant. Many were so small I didn't even bother trying to photograph them, but others were large enough and cooperative enough to give me a fighting chance.
|Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle|
|Striped Cucumber Beetle|
Some bugs (Hemiptera...told by the way the wings folded) were there as well. I haven't figured out this first one yet.
Quite unexpected was this damselfly, a male Fragile Forktail. Our yard is a long way from any water, but apparently this species does wander a lot.
Perhaps the strangest creature of the evening was this Mantid Fly (Dicromantsipa sayi).
At least three types of Orthoptera came by, but I only got photos of two.
|Northern Ground Cricket|
|Slender Meadow Katydid|
|Double-banded Grass Veneer|
|Elegant Grass Veneer|
|Unidentified as yet|
|Gypsy Moth (male)|
|Common Tan Wave|