FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Moth Trapping

It is best for you to look for moths on a dry, warmish night when it isn’t too windy.

Warm a ¼ bottle of red wine in a saucepan and add as much sugar as will dissolve in it. It will take several tablespoons of sugar. (You can substitute red wine for cola, although moths seem to like the alcohol better!)

Allow the solution to cool.

There are 3 ways to use your solution:

1)      Cut several 1m lengths of string or cut strips from old cotton sheet/shirt etc. Soak the string/cotton sheets in the cooled solution and hang from tree branches. This method does works the best, especially on a warm night with a slight breeze.

2)      Paint the solution onto tree trunks or fence posts using an old paintbrush.

3)      Pour the solution into plastic lids and put them on flat surfaces in your


Wait until dusk and then take a torch outside and start checking the areas where you have your solution – some moths come out at dusk, some after dark so check frequently.  Not all moths are attracted to sugar solution (some don’t have mouths in the adult stage so they do not eat) and there will be different moths at different times of the year and in different habitats.

Things to consider

1)      Take a bucket of warm soapy water and a towel outside with you – you’ll get very sticky hands from handling the solution.

2)      The solution may attract wasps during the day – it is best to remove the solution after you have finished looking for moths – this is easier to do if you have used string/cotton strips or plastic lids. If you have painted the solution on tree trunks it is best to avoid the area the following day – insects will eat the sugar solution within a day or two.

3)      If the solution is painted on trees or put in lids on a flat surface it may also attract slugs and other insects at night (which gives you more things to look at).

Alternative moth attracting solution and more info here: http://nationalmothweek.org/2011/10/15/44/


Go out in garden with a torch – moths love the flowers of lilac, buddleia and mint – if you have these plants in your garden you can just go out with a torch when they are flowering and look for moths on the flowers.

What else can you do to find out more about moths?

Buy our Day-flying moths publication chart or our The smaller moth of Shropshire BRC Atlases.

How about a course - we still have some Moth courses available this year.


Thursday, July 21, 2016