Moth Baiting: How to Create Moth Bait

Updated on March 23, 2018

Making "Moth Bait"

Moth bait starts with at least a pint of stale bear. Add to the beer:

  • Black-strap molasses
  • Brown sugar
  • An over-ripe banana
  • Ground-up or powdered asafoetida (if you can get it).

Bring this concoction to a boil and store it in a large jar for use.

Baiting the Trees

Bring a pastry or paint brush with you and take the jar of moth bait in the late afternoon along a convenient well-known path that has trees along it. Paint a broad swatch of tree trunk about chest-high with your moth-bait and allow some bait to dribble down the trunk. A circular path route is best to allow you to repeat the circuit without retracing your steps in the opposite direction. Leave the path to age a few hours until it is dark.

Checking the Baited Trees

As darkness approaches, assemble your equipment. You need a head-lamp or a flashlight. The headlamp allows you to act alone or you can go with a helper who can use a flashlight or another portable light to shine on the baited trees. You should have various collecting equipment. A large widemouth jar is good for placing over and insect that is sipping at the bait. A net can be used but beware that you do not get it fouled with the bait. You can also pick or flick off the bugs into a collecting jar. Alternately you may not want to collect but rather photograph the bugs as they sip on the bait. Prepare to encounter a variety of insects attracted to the bait during your walk along your path from tree to tree. Collect or photograph the insects and other critters encountered.

What Will You Find?

There are about 13,000 species of moths in North America and you are likely to encounter 100s in any one location over the course of nights of 'moth baiting'. You will see many other critters as well. Wild cockroaches will also appear at the bait in most North American locations and around the world. In some cases it will only be the males since many of the adult females are wingless and stay at home. Katydids will appear as well. Do not be surprised if a few hornets appear and carry off the bait to feed their nest.

What Are They?

There are several websites that will help you identify your collected or photographed critters. If you wish you can upload pictures here and I will give it a try. It is a great way for kids and old kids like me to learn about the huge variety of animals with which we share the world.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Joseph G Kunkel


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