In previous posts I described how I have been lucky enough to travel to Borneo on fieldwork for the Museum. I explained how moths are collected using light traps, and we also got to meet some of the moths I found during this trip.
The four light traps at our camp were obviously very popular with many different species of moths, but when you put up a light trap in areas which are biologically rich - and this is particularly true in tropical regions - a whole range of other insects show up too.
Enthralled by the many exotic species of moths attracted to one of our light traps.
Collecting our favourite species at the light traps.
Some interesting and rare species were sampled in this way, including the magnificent Chalcosoma, a dynastine beetle.
The striking dynastine beetle Chalcosoma moellenkampi (female on the left and male on the right) was one of the many interesting and rare insects visiting the light trap.
Other frequent visitors to the light traps were mantises and crickets which, true to their predatory habit, invariably found a tasty prey to feed upon. Hefty cicadas and large bees and wasps were also numerous; their blatant cries and unpredictable flight paths were a source of constant distraction for us, as we tried to concentrate on less vociferous and placid species. Many flies, stink-bugs, frog- and leaf-hoppers, parasitic wasps and flying ants and termites were also regular visitors at our light traps.
A great variety of other species of insects are commonly attracted by light traps.
…and even a terrestrial crab!
At times, it seemed that the arthropod fauna of the entire neighbourhood was paying a visit to our light traps and every night we were pleasantly surprised to find a new species of moth or beetle appearing at the trap for the first time. The number of insects visiting the traps only decreased during a few nights at the end of the trip; this is because the moon was full and clearly visible from early evening to late night. However we were still up late, trying to collect the few interesting species which, untouched by the resplendent show in the sky, were still paying a visit to our comparatively dingy traps.
There is no way a light trap can compete with such a large and incredibly luminous celestial body!
During the mornings, while my colleagues were checking the Flight Interception and Malaise traps we put up in the forest, or collecting beetles using other methods, I was busy pinning the moths collected the night before.
Setting micro- and macromoths in the field.
This has definitely been an amazing field working experience and judging by the number of specimens we have brought back a very successful one too. We’ve collected in the region of 13,000 specimens, which, after having gone through the freezing process, will soon be ready to be sorted and identified, mounted and labelled, electronically recorded and finally incorporated in our ever growing collections.