percentage of moths at lights

Mike Soukup mikayak at
Thu Aug 19 23:23:02 EDT 1999

Are there any studies that have determined the percentage of the
population of moths in a given area that actually come to lights?  I've
always felt that only about .1% of the moths in a given area will
actually come to a light.  I've just seen the multitudes of moths in my
headlights as I drive down country roads and have always wondered.  But,
here is what happened last week that really kind of amazed me.  Here's
the story.  I had a Antheraea oculea female out calling.  She was in a
cage that I had set on the side of my house.  It was on top of two very
large "nested" flowerpots.  The pots had about a 3 inch gap between
thier outer rings.  Anyway, I put a few oculea males in with
luck.  this went on for a few days and all of the males beat themselves
up and died.  So, I'm out there one night around 4AM, cussing at the
moths when I start getting pummeled by Poly's.  She was calling them in
(I live in a Oak-Hickory climax forest in MAryland).  Anyway, I grabbed
2, put them in, and they also didn't mate (another whole long
frustrating story).  Well, THIS practice went on for 2 or 3 more days
till I just gave up.  I cussed at her some more and threatened her with
the freezer....but never actually got around to it.  I just left her
hanging in the cage for about a week.  Well, anyway, a few days ago, I
was standing out there during the day, cussing at her for not mating,
when I heard a rustling under the cage.  I thought "oh, thier must be a
Poly stuck between the pots".  So, I picked up the cage, took apart the
pots, and there were 4 or 5 live polys, along with about 200 dead ones
that got stuck between the pots.  It was shocking to say the least.  For
a good 4 or 5 seconds, I thought they were just all dead leaves.  Then I
started to see the patterns.

    Now, the cage covered 80% of the gap (it's bigger than the
pots....but square).  And, only a small percentage of the actual poly's
called in could have gotten trapped.  I estimate that she had to call in
at least 2000 males in the course of the week.  And, during this entire
time, I only got 4 or 5 polys at my MV lights all about my house.

I'd love to set up a calling poly and some sort of mist net.

Just thought I'd share.....
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