Neotropical Butterflies

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 Post subject: Looking for tips to attrack butterflies and moths
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:37 am
Posts: 109
Location: Suriname
Hi all,

I've been doing research into Surinamese scarab beetles for years now and for that purpose I have, among other things, a light collecting installation. To increase my income, I now want to offer this light collecting installation and my knowledge to interested tourists. I'm already talking with a tour operator regarding the logistics of such tours and am now looking for some tips and tricks to increase the amount of butterflies and moths that I can show people (especially on moonlit nights, when fewer specimens will come to the lights).

Since I expect that many tourists on these 2-day tours will have little or no experience with insect watching, I rather not freighten them by using lures like pee, spit, fermenting shrimp etc. I think overripe bananas will be nice to put somewhere on a tree stub, but what else could be effective and, when people want to try it out back home, not too yucky? I know some collectors make a concoction which they smear on trees, but what is a good recipe for this? And would I have to make a new quantity each day, or could I keep it for some time? And as an alternative for spit/pee wads, could I use toilet paper dipped in salt water (how much salt per liter?), or should I add something else to make it more attractive to butterflies?

I think we will usually reach our destination (forested area with tourist trails) somewhere around 17:00 (dark at about 19:00) while leaving the next day probably around 10:00 or 11:00 after a walk on a forest trail. Would wads actually work, or do they need more time to lure specimens? It would be easiest to place wads in the early evening, since getting up early will be difficult after a long night at the lights.

Thank you for all of your comments!

Scarabaeoid


 
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 Post subject: Re: Looking for tips to attrack butterflies and moths
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:26 pm
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I have used salt water instead of spit, on white wads, and found it quite effective. We put out a line of white paper wads (it has to be white) and then we can squirt salt water and refresh them during the day, as they dry out. This is much easier than trying to spit on them in the field.
How much salt? I've never tested it to find out what works best, is more better? I don't know. I usually put a teaspoon or two in a water bottle.
As to how fast it works, it depends on how many butterflies are around. Sometimes they hit it while I'm still standing there, sometimes nothing. It works better at lower elevations, but it works up to 1,500 meters or more. The problem w/putting out wads in the evening is many insects at night will eat them, like ants, grasshoppers, etc. So they are usually gone by morning. SOmetimes crepuscular skippers hit them very early in the morning. I like to put them around my cabin or where I'm sleeping, then I can check them out before dawn, plus they seem to get eaten less when they're close to people, rather than out in the forest.


 
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 Post subject: Re: Looking for tips to attrack butterflies and moths
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:16 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:37 am
Posts: 109
Location: Suriname
Thank you for your comments! For those two teaspoons of salt, what size is your average water bottle (you can give either oz or liter, I'll do the conversion)?

Given your experiences, I think I will put out wads at both night and day then, so we may see some species at night which possibly won't come to the light.

Thanks again,

Scarabaeoid


 
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 Post subject: Re: Looking for tips to attrack butterflies and moths
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:31 pm 
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A small bottle, the kind you would carry for the morning, maybe a liter? I would be very interested to hear if you test different amounts of salt if you notice any difference in response. We've always talked about doing it, but never gotten around to it. It would be fun to put out wads on the left of the trail w/1-2 teaspoons, and wads to the right w/3-4 teaspoons.
I have tested human male pee versus female pee, and unfortunately for me (I'm a woman) the man's pee always works much better, like 3-4 times as many butterflies. Why? Another question I'm very curious about. We've joked about comparing smokers, carnivores vs vegetarians, maybe different medications? Many variables. I have noticed among my male friends that some peoples' pee seems to be more attractive than others. Maybe the beer drinkers? I often ask the drivers and guides to fill up plastic bottles at night, so we have lots to splash around the next morning. I tell them they have to drink lots of beer so they have lots of pee. Being guys, they usually really get into it. A PhD thesis waiting to be done, in my opinion.


 
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