Mercury Vapor Settups for Moth Collecting


Here is a picture of my personnal home -made kit It is a 1000 watts Metal-halide bulb, currently used in hydroponic horticulture It has a high UV radiancy and it will bring sooo many leps & bugs you won't have enough time in your life to compile & spread them all , no kidding!! ( i am still spreading weekly many of the new species i caught this summer with the kit). Of course you'll need the assistance of a generator if you're far from an electricity outlet, but the bother really pays off You can find this kind of light in any indoor horticulture shop, it costs around 400$ (can.) for the bulb & ballast.

My framing consists of 3 extensible poles attached to the ground with strong nylon rope, each pole has 2 ropes and each rope is fixed in soil with 12 inch giant nails. Poles have a dart end to plant them in soil the light can sustain some major rain without breaking or anything because the ballast is on the ground and all shielded in a metal case (also has a handle to carry it around cause it weights a lot) some holes are pierced in the vertical sheet to lower wind force on it The whole system is very home-made, but if you want to have specific details, I could draw it and send it to you. It is very strong, I used to do night collecting in a open field where winds are always at min. 15 mph and it has withstanded muuuch stronger winds without falling.

Dave Clermont
Gaa Nature
424 St- Denis,
Granby, Quebec, Can.
J2G 3M5

From Kelly Richers

I saw another collector deal with the problem this way: There were no ties for a normal string or rope setup, so he had two aluminum poles (about 6+ feet long) which he pushed into the ground. At the top thery were flattened and had a bolt hole through them, to which he attached another horizontal aluminum bar. There were also two cords attached to each top bolt areas (I'm not sure of the exact arrangement, but similar to how many tents are attached to their cords) and plastic stakes on the ends of them. He drove the stakes tautly into the ground, at perpindicular to the direction of the crossbar, secured the sheet with top and bottom connectors, had small reinforced slits in the sheet for high winds, and used a hanging connected top (like Bioquip sells) for a rain protector for the mv light.

It worked great and I stayed up all night long after he went to sleep collecting until eyes in the night down the road-either a bear or cougar- scared me into my truck temorarily. We were hit with two significant storms, including high winds, and it did not damage anything.

From Mike Smith (

The most effective, and still easy, system with an MV light that I have seen was one that Doug Mullins used. He had an MV light hanging from a rope about 7 or 8 feet above the ground. About 10 or 15 feet away was a typical sheet setup on a rope stretched between trees. On the sheet was a black light and a white flourescent light. The setup seemed to use the MV light to attract in moths, and then the UV and white flourescent lights on the sheet seem to bring the vast majority of the moths to the sheet. I would say that 85 to 90% of the moths came to the sheet. It was a pretty clean way to attract moths in and the MV was not right in the middle and it was less likely to get knocked over. Daniel Janzen indicates that in Costa Rica he has the best success with UV and white flourescent ligths used in conjunction with each other. Hope this helps.

This is in response to your response to Kelly on his response to you about the blacklight/MV setups. I have seen PVC pipe used very effectively for a frame, including pieces out on the ground in both directions for stability. Very light and very easily setup and taken apart. Like Kelly said, very useful if convenient trees aren't readily available.

From Michale Gates

I'm not sure if you're upgrading both your bulb/ballast set-ups AND your sheet set-up, so... I can tell you about the John Rose MV setups that I use.

I own both his 400watt and 175 watt setups, which we compared last summer in AZ. The 400 watt had AT LEAST twice as many insects in and around the sheets. We typically use only a king-size ground cloth and occasionally hang a vertical sheet from string attached to two trees (useful in washes, rocky areas, etc. where it is very difficult to set up poles or stakes).

I find John to produce the best quality ento. equipment that I have seen and has been willing to do custom orders to spec. for me.

Michael Gates
Department of Entomology
University California
Riverside, CA 92521
(909) 787-5740

From Chuck Harp

Responding to the question: Any suggestions for a frame for holding the sheet that is (1) lightweight, (2) very sturdy under high wind, and (3) easy to setup. Is there such a beast?

An idea for your inquiry , a lightweight frame for lighting. I use 1/2" electrical conduit from the home fix-it store (less than $3 for a 10' piece). You could also use an aluminum tubing for a lighter weight, but you need to increase size to at least 3/4" to stay as rigid. The conduit (tubing) is cut to 4 lengths of 6 ft. pieces. This will make two pairs of folding legs when all four are drilled near the top (2" down). The hole should be 1/4". Put two poles together and insert a 1/4" by 1 1/2" bolt put 1/4 nut to secure (washers optional), giving two pairs of 'scissor-like' poles. These poles are held up with clothes line, staked down at each end, say 12' apart. Stake in ground, run up to first set of legs (on hinged end with legs spread out to about 7'), line is run over to second set of legs (likewise spread), and on down to second stake. The 7' spread will allow tightening of the line as you bring the legs together and will accomodate the four corners of a white, full-size sheet. At this point, a second sheet is attached to the line and weighted to the bottom sheet. (I sew my bottom sheet to the top sheet, where you would usually hold down with rocks..) The end product is a lightweight, economical ($12 total), sturdy frame that indures your late night gusts. I use 6' legs in a pickup. I have cut these in half to 3' for easier packing and put conduit connectors at these joints that assemble back to the 6' length. The 6' in important since at the spread of the legs makes the final height about 5', able to hang a twin or full sheet. By putting the ends of the spread legs onto the corners of the bottom sheet, you will not need to hold the corners down with stones. I also use cheap, long screwdrivers as the stakes, since they are easy to drive in, sturdy and can be used as a.....screwdriver if needed.

From Chris Conlans

Re: The Honda EU1000i generation I got from Mayberrys over the net:

A side note on the generator. I got mine in the same place and the guys at Mayberrys were really nice. I'd buy one there again in a heartbeat. Also, that generator ran like a charm in Bolivia (never stalled once over 14 nights) even at our highest altitude locations in the 9-10,000' range. Run time went down a touch at the really high spots but it still lasted at least 8-9 hours on crummy low octane Bolivian gas. I'm sold!

From Leroy C. Koehn

I the last Lep. Soc. newsletter (REF) is a picture of Ed Knudson with flash light in mouth collecting off a UV light rig that I built. I had the thing in Arizona last summer and lit-up Copper Canyon, Garden Canyon, Rustler Park, etc. The rig is 10' wide X 8' tall on a collapsible aluminum frame. The following UV lights mount (solid mount) to the rig: Two 175 watt MV, four 40 watt black light (2 reg & 2 dark) and four 250 sun lamps.

From Bob Kriegel

I would be very interested in finding out folk's suggestions on waterproofing MV lights. Here's my two-cents worth on a sturdy, light weight, easy to set up frame for blacklighting (see attached jpg). I'll try to scan in a photo over the weekend and send that to you. This quick sketch doesn't really do it justice. Anyway, I've been using this arrangement for over 10 years now. I've used it everywhere from above tree line in the Rockies to setting it up out on a bog mat. My primary design criteria were (1) that it be light and easy to carry substantial distances, (2) that it break down into a small package, (3) that it's not too expensive, (4) that it be sturdy, and (5) that it be completely self-contained.

The entire apparatus is constructed from the following:

My typical light setup includes 1 165W AC MV bulb on a tripod, 2 15W DC UV lights, and a portable electric cooler all powered by a 400W Honda generator. The entire sheet setup including the tripod, 2 UV lights, and a rock hammer fit into a very small duffle bag. The apparatus is very study in any wind you would want to be out collecting in. I did once leave it out running while a storm with 65 mph straight line winds came through (I was running just 15W UV lights on batteries). When I came out the sheet was down on the ground. Nothing was damaged and the tie lines had not pulled out. The aluminum tent poles had an impressive bend in them, but I just straightened them out by hand and I was ready to go again!

The entire arrangement takes me less than 5 minutes to set up -- by myself.

Hope this helps,
Bob Kriegel

From Maurice Bottos

For Local Use

I use 3 UV lights. One 400 W UV bulb is on long extension poles totaling approx. 20 feet. The remaining 2 are on either side of the sheet which is located about 5 ft off the ground directly beneath the long pole. The sheet is supported by 2 portable wood stands. The stands are in a "T" shape . A wooden dowel slides through a hole near the top of the 2 stands. The sheet is secured to the dowel with clothes pegs and the sides of the sheets are secured to the stands with 2 strips of velco. To prevent damage to the sheet on very windy conditions, small vertical slits are placed in the sheet to prevent the sheet form acting as a sail. The lights hang on both sides of the dowel and are secured by hooks and eyelet screws. The setup take about 4-5 mins to assemble.

For rain protection I use your standard bulbs with a portable ballast which controls all 3 of the bulbs. The self ballasting bulbs get far too hot and will exploded with rainy conditions. The standard bulbs are warm, but generally don't break with wet conditions. I go through approx. 2 bulbs a season.

I hope this helped. If you have any questions or need any other information, just let me know.

Maurice Bottos
(519) 969-0087
Windsor, Ontario

P.S. I use a similar, but lighter, more compact method for international UV collecting.