Mothing 101

Looking for moths can be as easy as leaving your porch light on and checking what is attracted to the light, or as advanced as custom setups with specialized lights and baits.


Whichever way you wish to attract moths, we’re here to get you started with an easy guide. 

Lights: Any type of light will attract moths

For a beginner setup, you can leave your porch light on and check back in an hour to see what’s attracted to it. Using a flashlight or any type of light in a dark field will attract moths. For a more advanced setup, use blacklights or mercury vapor bulbs. Try any or all of these lights and see what you find. 

Porch Lights

Black lights

Mercury Vapor

Landing Pad: Moths need a spot to land next to the light

If you’re using a porch light, the moths will probably land on your house wall, but a Mothing setup using other types of light use a white bed sheet draped over a line, usually between two trees as a landing pad. The light is placed toward the sheet to cast as much light as possible to guide the moths to the sheet.

Porch Walls

White Sheet

Sheet with Light

Camera: Any camera will do!

Once the moths have landed, you can observe, take a photos, and upload them to any of our partner apps to be identified and have the data stored for entomologists. You’re officially a citizen scientist! Just be sure the moths have identifiable features shown in the photos and good lighting. See examples below. 

Entire moth is in frame

Wing patterns are in view

Moth is well lit and clear

Bait and Moth Boxes

Baiting and Moth Boxes are a way to draw a moth in with smell from fermented sugar and fruit. Try Dave’s not-so-secret moth bait recipe or experiment with your own. Brush the mixture on trees around the area you’re mothing in, about an hour before dusk. You can also soak twine in the mixture and hang it around trees or other structures.

A moth box, or moth trap, is a structure made to attract moths to a light that then traps them in a funnel-type entrance that they can’t easily escape. It can be made or purchased online, and is a good way to passively go mothing, since you can set it out overnight and view your moths the next day.

Moth Bait Mixture

Moth drinking from soaked twine

DIY Moth Trap

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