Blacklighting?

Cheshire

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I've been seeing pictures of entomologists putting black lights in front of sheets to collect insects in some of the entomology journals I've been reading for research on my current long-term project.

Can someone tell me a bit more how this works or how much a decent setup costs?
 

lucanidae

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Here is one of my old posts about blacklighting:

http://www.arachnoboards.com/ab/showthread.php?t=70179

You can see pictures of two different setups, blacklights and mercury vapor lights. You can see with and without flash pictures showing general setup and what it will look like in the dark.

Decent blacklights run $50, plus a battery in the $30 range and some sheets ($5) and random other supplies ($10). Plus collecting materials such as boxes, pins, kill jars, and what not. This is your general startup costs. A cheap blacklight that will work just ok can be bought at home depot or wal mart for around $20 but the battery and charger and whatnot to take it into the woods will cost the same. Mercury vapor light setups general run well into the hundreds for a good portable one.
 

Cheshire

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You know...I didn't even think to search.

Shame on me.

What could I expect to catch with these setups?

What do you think the best setup is?
 

Drachenjager

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You know...I didn't even think to search.

Shame on me.

What could I expect to catch with these setups?

What do you think the best setup is?
WHat kind of goober asks questions on here before doitn his research ?!?!?
J/K Cheshire , just couldnt resist lol
 

Cheshire

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WHat kind of goober asks questions on here before doitn his research ?!?!?
J/K Cheshire , just couldnt resist lol
Haha...I deserved it ;)

I'm thinking this setup is going to cost me around $200 total.

I'm going to be running a flourescent blacklight on a Lithium-Ion battery which should be good for about 5 hours.

A bit costly, but if I get even one M/F pair of what I'm going for, it will most likely pay for itself.
 

Tleilaxu

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Haha...I deserved it ;)

I'm thinking this setup is going to cost me around $200 total.

I'm going to be running a flourescent blacklight on a Lithium-Ion battery which should be good for about 5 hours.

A bit costly, but if I get even one M/F pair of what I'm going for, it will most likely pay for itself.
If you do this early enough (mid march early april) you could make a small sum of money on the side by nabbing confused wasp and hornet queens...{D
 

Cheshire

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If you do this early enough (mid march early april) you could make a small sum of money on the side by nabbing confused wasp and hornet queens...{D

I won't make much money, but I'll definitely keep that in mind :)
 

lucanidae

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Lucanids are a very rare catch at a black-light. Also, you will not get many day flying insects, so count out bees/wasps/butterflies and the like.

What you mainly get at blacklights are nocturnal flying insects, so for the most part, moths. You'll get neuropterans too, and a lot of beetles, but not all types. Keep in mind that there are different wavelengths of blacklight, and the different lights attract different species of animals. Also, a good tip for finding the really good stuff is not to even collect on the sheet. Many animals will just land nearby, including most large beetles. That's one reason really good reason for adding that ground sheet.

To get the full range of insects, you have to collect from sundown until about 2 am. The big moths don't even start coming out until after midnight. I don't suggest trying this all in one night though, blacklighting gets very tiring and can become really boring if you are alone. It isn't uncommon for entomologists to have mixed drinks ready to go by the time they get to the blacklight!
 

Wade

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Many collectors will use a large merc-vapor lamp to bring insects into the general area, and then flourecent BL tubes to bring them to the sheet.

Many flourecent blacklight systems can be powered from you car lighter, so if you don't need to go deep in the woods or something, it will be a lot easier to run it from your car. You'll need to turn the car on periodically to keep from killing your battery.

You can also get a power converter (or something) that lets you plug in standard lightes etc using car power. This will let you run a merc vapor lamp or other high-watt device. Some serious collectors will even invest in a small generator.

If you have some electrical know-how, you may be able to assemble your own merc-vapor system from parts available at the hardware store.

If not, check www.bioquip.com for blacklight systems.

In addition to the insects mentioned above, you may also attract predators who are attracted to the other insects. Large ground beetles (Carabidae) often show up, as do various mantids. I've also seen solifugids and centipedes take advantage of the bounty.

As Lucanidae indicates, blacklighting for insects can turn into a laid-back social activity. Set up you lights and kick back with a few cigars, beers and wait to see what flies in!

Wade
 

myrmecophile

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Lots of good information here, One word of caution though do not ever leave your light unattended, they will sprout legs and walk away.
 

Cheshire

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Lucanids are a very rare catch at a black-light.
Really?

All but one of the pseudolucanus beetles I've ever seen were by lights at night around here. I figured the opposite.

Either way, there's a more than a few species I'm looking for.

Thanks for the website, I'll check it out.
 

Tleilaxu

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Lucanids are a very rare catch at a black-light. Also, you will not get many day flying insects, so count out bees/wasps/butterflies and the like.

What you mainly get at blacklights are nocturnal flying insects, so for the most part, moths. You'll get neuropterans too, and a lot of beetles, but not all types. Keep in mind that there are different wavelengths of blacklight, and the different lights attract different species of animals. Also, a good tip for finding the really good stuff is not to even collect on the sheet. Many animals will just land nearby, including most large beetles. That's one reason really good reason for adding that ground sheet.

To get the full range of insects, you have to collect from sundown until about 2 am. The big moths don't even start coming out until after midnight. I don't suggest trying this all in one night though, blacklighting gets very tiring and can become really boring if you are alone. It isn't uncommon for entomologists to have mixed drinks ready to go by the time they get to the blacklight!
That is not entirely correct, I have seen queen hornets attracted to regular lights, well after dark, they will forage and move about on calm nights. While I agree butterflies will most likely not be attracted I would not rule out wasps and hornets.
 

lucanidae

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That's cool, but in my experience I've never ever ever seen a wasp or bee come to a blacklight. Last summer I had a blacklight running off the side of the garage every night, we even had a wasp nest in the garage even and they never stopped by the sheet.

Wade has good suggestions about the car, but I don't think you can run a 150 W merc vapor off a car safely/easily. We use small generators that we carry into the woods but they are $$$. Blacklights definitley can run off cars, but then you are of course limited to where you can drive the car.
 

Tleilaxu

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Perhaps its just hornets that move around then... my wasps are nest bound at night too
 

loxoscelesfear

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i have taken Dorcus, Pseudolucanus, and Ceruchus at blacklights this year .
No Lucanus elaphus though grrrrrr ;P Oh well, found two @ a dusk to dawn woo hoo {D
 
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