I live in the NE US where I have only recently started using my standard traps. However, the weather has been hit and miss for butterflies. I find from the past that they would frequent the traps most often when the temps are in the 80's or 90's and very humid. That has not been the case lately. My question concerns the banana mash. The mash I use is mostly Nigel Venter's recipe, which is mainly banana, sugar and a bit of yeast. How can I extend the bait's life after making? Nigel says that such bait has a normal lifetime of like 5-7 days when used at room temperature and above, but it may be close to that before I get decent weather once again, and I've already made a couple of batches. Can I refrigerate it to extend lifetime? What about freezing?
On a separate issue, is there any way to rapidly ripen bananas other than the paper bag and warm temperature tricks? I recently tried an experiment that failed. The local supermarket here (Walmart) keeps only well green bananas in stock. In the past, I've asked them about possibly obtaining over-ripened ones and my request was refused. So, I usually place about 4-5 in the bag and try to expose to as warm of temps as I can. Even so, it usually takes at least 2 weeks, sometimes even more! I read online that a banana can be quickly riped by placing in the oven at 250-300 F until the skin turns black. I tried it and it seemed to work... until I tried using it in the bait recipe. No matter how long I let the bait sit and in the sun, etc, it wouldn't ripen any further. My guess is that I must have "sterilized" banana ripening this way. Any thoughts on this would be welcome also.
I have designed many of the Bait Traps used to collect Lepidoptera. I am also a user of Bait Traps. I prefer the Slotted Pan Type Bait Trap. The link below is to my web site www.leptraps.com. There is a page entitled "Effective Bait Trapping".
This page discribes how to use Bait Traps, various bait recipes and how to manage and maintain bait traps. These are the fundamentals. However, should you have a trap design that works extremely well for you, tell us about it. What bait or combination of baits works exceptionally well for you. Please share that information with us, your fellow Lepidopterists'
While living in Scott County, Kentucky, I had a Slotted Pan Type Bait Trap made of Lumite Screen hanging from a tree behind my home for 14+ years (24/7/365). I collected hundreds of specimens from that trap alone. From early March to late November I had 8 to 10 Bait Traps in various locations in Kentucky in Scott, Owen, Franklin and Fayette counties during 2018. I use the Baits described on my website. It seems that I am forever buying/collecting fruit, making bait, cleaning traps and Slotted Pans and checking my traps.
I also have several kill type Bait traps. I use these at locations of considerable distance from my home. I check and replace the Bait about once every four or five days. The serious draw back, I have from time to time managed to collect small birds. The succumb to the Vapona. To reduce the number of birds, I changed the color of the pail from white to black. Even then I manage to kill at least one bird a year.
I am currently working on a new design that will prevent small birds from entering the trap. However, that design will wait until this Winter.
Again, I am always curious to see other designs. Let me remind some of you that you copy my designs. Then again I remember that most Lepidopterists are poor lot, so I fully understand your plight.
Last Edit: Aug 19, 2019 6:15:59 GMT -8 by leptraps
Thank you for responding, and I was actually sort of hoping you would as I was already quite familiar with your website.
This is the first Summer since the last three that I set out two custom made traps. My original trap, also a DIY, was accidentally tossed out. It was originally a modified 3 tier mesh storage unit that worked extremely well. When I returned to Walmart earlier this Summer to find the same thing, they no longer had them, so I went with two traps: a modified pop up mesh clothing hamper and another made from embroidery hoops and white tulle. Both have plywood bases with holes cut in the bases to accept styrofoam bowls. I also use several zippers with my traps, both along each side and the top. On a pinch yesterday, before leps starting appearing in the traps, I modified the bottom of the pop up to enable attachment/ detachment of the styrofoam bowls without having to detach the plywood base.
Not until yesterday was the weather suitable enough to start collecting leps in the traps. They seem to almost ignore the traps unless the temperature reaches the mid or high 80's with 60% or more humidity. These conditions evidently were something I had forgotten about over the last three years and I was expecting too much with the cooler weather. So I jotted down the temp/ humidity and number of leps to have as a reference in the future. Starting off with the much cooler mornings we also had up until recently didn't help matters either. However, by late afternoon yesterday, I finally returned to the traps to find lots of leps. Both traps seemed to perform well. I was a bit concerned that the modified pop up wouldn't work as well as it doesn't have the length of the tulle trap, but it didn't seem to matter. I didn't mention it, but I use cones in both traps so maybe the reason the shorter one is working well too.
For bait, I've been using banana mash and, after yesterday's great lep performance, I'm going to stick with it. Sometimes it's taking longer than I like to ferment enough to start attracting the leps, but overall it seems to be working well. One telltale sign that the bait has fermented enough is that I first start seeing large horseflies coming to feed. Hard to believe how large these flies are sometimes, but when I see them I know the bait is good. I'm finding ripening differences in bananas though. Ones I buy from Walmart, which are almost completely green when purchased, take the longest to overripen (2 weeks and even that doesn't seem enough), but others purchased from a local deli ripen much faster and they are almost all yellow at purchase time. In fact, there are still several bananas remaining from the Walmart batch I purchased 2 weeks back and even now there are still traces of green near the ends. Makes me wonder if Walmart or their exporter treated them in some way. I think I'll avoid the Walmart ones in the future and stick with the much faster ripening ones from the local deli.
Thanks for your response. To my surprise, I never got an email notification of any responses and it's only because I have it bookmarked and have been occasionally checking that I managed to see your response today.
Last Edit: Aug 17, 2019 2:35:28 GMT -8 by joniverson
After taking a look at the slotted traps, I decided to modify one of mine and see how well (or poorly) it would work. I took a dollar store pink 13"round plastic container, which already had two slots along the side near the top, and lengthened those slots, then carefully used my angle grinder to add an additional slot. I made a new plywood base with the hole just slightly smaller than the pink container, the used the plywood cutout, aluminum scraps, and stretch fabric to bring the container flush against the new plywood base. I then added aluminum baffling along the interior of the hole cutout so I wouldn't have to readjust the plywood base to net distance and also for the purpose of complete sealing as butterflies will no longer need that access area. It seems to be working. Within an hour, a question mark entered and ended up within the netting. I haven't yet removed the internal cone, but probably will if the success continues. The nice thing about the container support is that I can change it out for something more robust at some point, such as aluminum, without extensive modification needed, just shortening the aluminum straps and stretch fabric. There's also enough room in the interior to accommodate two of my small styrofoam bait containers. So now I can try out a variety of baits.
I appreciate the idea of the slots, thanks. I've been experimenting with different ways to set up the bait container and adjust the net and base variables. I find that as long as the butterfly line of sight is not parallel to the outside environment, just about any configuration has been working. Makes me wonder how effective those bait traps are that I see having no provisions made for line of sight. They must not perform that well, but maybe in the tropics it wouldn't matter. Where I live, it would.
Post by joniverson on Aug 17, 2019 17:08:16 GMT -8
Leptraps, I saw in the archives that you make large quantities of bait and freeze it. This might be ideal for me since my weather varies so much. Today, for example, since it was mostly cloudy most of the day, I didn't get very many leps in the traps unlike yesterday where I could hardly keep up. Poor days just means that much less time before I have to make up more bait.
About the freezing, do you let it sit in the sealed bag in the sun until the bag swells, let out the air, and then freeze it immediately afterwards? Or do you mix, freeze right away, and do the fermenting process at a later time in the sunlit plastic bags? How long can you keep bait frozen and still have it be effective? Thanks in advance!
I have several advantages that eases making bait. My older son is a Chef and his wife works in the food processing industry. As a result, I have a Cut/Slicer which I use to cut up my fruit.
I cut up rather large quantities of Apple, peaches, Nectarines (an outstanding bait), and persimmons. I fill Zip lock gallon bags, add a cup of Sugar, shake the bag well to mix the fruit and sugar, (Use Zip lock Bags, remove all of the air prior to shaking.) And then into the freezer.
When I need to replace bait or set a new trap, I remove the bag (bags) of frozen bait, let it thaw, then into the trap. Add water. Keep the bait juicy.
I check my traps twice a daily, In the morning and again in the late afternoon. I add water to keep the Bait juicy. During long periods of hot dry weather, I will check my traps three times a day. During periods of dry weather Bait Traps will bring in large numbers of insects
Bait normally last about five (5) days. I have one major advantage than most of you. I currently use all Slotted Pan Type Bait Traps. I simply replace the pans with new fruit. I dump the old fruit near where I park my car. The trap in my yard I dump the old bait into my compost pile.
I clean out the old bait and wash out the pans with a garden hose. I will then wash the Slotted Pans in my dish washer. I have numerous extra slotted pans. One of the benefits of owning Leptraps.
During the course of the year I will on average about three to four specimens from each trap daily. The majority are Moths, both Eribidea and Noctuidae. However, I look at each butterfly. I have found numerous aberrations.
One major issue that I have yet to find a solution, flies (Diptera). I kill them by the millions. After I remove all the Leps I spray the trap down with "Raid".
The traps collect many other families of insects. Coleoptera, Diptera and Hymenoptera. I have taken many Crane Fly's. Some very large Crane Flies. Also many Long Horn Beetles and several Buprestidae every year (Season). Hornets, wasps and those nasty little yellow jackets. I get stung more than once a year.
I have written an article on Bait Traps and Bait Trapping. I have a PDF file of the article. Email me at: Leptraps@aol.com for a copy.
Thanks for the bait info! I will use it to advantage. It looks like you freeze right away after cutting up and adding the sugar, letting the fermentation process occur later once removed from freezing and into the trap. I think that's how I'll do it. I notice your sugar content is quite a lot higher than what I've been adding. I was using Nigel Venter's recipe where he adds as little sugar as possible (a teaspoon is what he adds to a couple lbs of bananas). Unfortunately, I tossed my original recipe along with the original trap, so I can't remember how much sugar I used, but I'll try adding more with the batch I'm about to make. I've been adding half a teaspoon to 2 bananas, but I think I used to add 1/4 cup or so.
I just converted my pop up clothing "hamper" into the slotted type. Right now, I'm using a dollar store plastic container as bait container with three slots cut along the sides. An inverted cone is still in place inside the pop up, but I think I will remove it today or tomorrow. I see no need really now that the net to base gap has been sealed. My other trap is the traditional type, but I may be converting it soon. I like the advantage of the slotted design, much less chance of escape. I still place my bait inside disposable styrofoam bowls that fit nicely inside either trap. Once the bait spoils, I just toss the bowl.
Three years ago, the one hornet I caught in great abundance was Vespa crabro. I kept most of them after carefully mounting and drying. I haven't caught any yet this season, but it may have been because I have been using less sugar in the bait mix. Every so often, the even larger Sphecius speciosus would pay a visit. I'm fortunate that I've never been stung. I do have zippered access for both the sides and top. I can open the top in such a way as to fold it back and let everything escape. I do that at the end of each day that I have the trap active.
One thing I have not tackled is waterproofing. Up to this point, since both traps are located in my back yard, I just remove them and the bait when threatening weather approaches, but this gets tiresome and some time I'm going to get caught off guard. I read that a clear trash bag placed over 1/3 of the trap will stop the rain from entering the bait. Would welcome any suggestions here.
Post by joniverson on Aug 18, 2019 15:15:49 GMT -8
Today was a good day for leps before the later thunderstorm (which thankfully missed my area but came close enough that no more leps and I took down the traps too). First order of business in the AM was to remove the inverted cone in the clothing pop up unit that I converted over to the slotted type yesterday. This made a difference. Every lep I saw entering the trap did not exit and ended up within the netting portion!
With my other standard trap, a feeling of disgust when I saw a beautiful red-spotted purple exit back out the same way it entered. I think the inverted cone was causing exiting leps too, so, while the weather was trying to decide what to do today, I converted my standard over to the slotted type too. This one doesn't have the width of the pop up one, but it is a lot longer since I specifically designed it. I also took out the inverted cone. Tomorrow will be its test assuming the weather cooperates. If its performance is anything like the now slotted clothing pop up, I'll be more than pleased.
Only thing now remaining is weatherproofing. Trying to keep it simple, but so far I haven't come up with any decent ideas.
Look at both of the photographs of the Flat Bottom and the Duralife Flat Bottom Bait Traps, they both have a solid light canvass top with a 8" inch Shroud. It is actually a skirt. The Shroud provides a hidding place for the entrapped. Simply lift up the Skirt/Shroud to see what you have trapped. Without the Shroud the entrapped individuals will continue to fly about inside the trap damaging themselves and other entrapped individuals. The solid top prevents rain from damaging specimens and flooding the Bait Container.
I collect Erebidae (Catocala), Noctuadae and Butterflies. If you look closely at the Flat Bottom Bait Trap you will notice the Bottom Platform has a 3/4 inch base with a retaining ring to raise up and center the Bait Container (10 inch aluminium cake pan) in the opening of the Flat Bottom Ring. When Lepidoptera finish feeding on the Bait, they will either walk off the Bait and onto the plastic Flat Bottom Ring (hence the name "Flat Bottom") and up into the cylinder.
Lepidoptera, especially butterflies is an upward motion. Moths in general will crawl off the Bait, simply step over the gap between the Bait Container and Flat Bottom Ring and up into the cylinder.
I have not produced nor do I offer an inverted funnel type Bait Trap. Less than 25% of the Lepidoptera that enter the Trap will negoiate the inverted funnel.
Remember, I am a user of my own Products. I have 38 Cornell Drawers of Catocala moths. 95% of them were collected in a Bait Trap. I only have and use Slotted Pan Type Bait Traps.
Last Edit: Aug 19, 2019 0:08:42 GMT -8 by leptraps
Ok, I see the skirts and/or shrouds. I can get a waterproof canvas material locally if I wanted to and integrate it into my traps. Either that, or punch a pin hole in a clear plastic bag and bring the bag down over the trap and cut off beyond 1/3 trap length. All of my traps are strung by fishing line that helps keep ants away and the added benefit of easily using the bags if I wanted. At least with a canvas material, the leps could still breathe and I'm not so sure they'd fair as well with plastic bags over them. Just covering the top or 1/3 of the way down though still wouldn't negate the rain if there is a lot of gusty winds. I guess we can't have it perfect or we wouldn't have a trap, lol.
I still don't quite understand the difference between a "flat bottom" trap and a standard. I see a ring that seems to cover a width from the cylindrical net edge to the bait container (or nearly so, hard to tell from the images I see), but what I don't know is the cylinder to base distance. Is the ring parallel to the top of the bait container? It still looks like an open bottom, like the standard type with the exception of the added ring.
I haven't done much moth baiting except when I've left my traps outside overnight, which is rare. When I did 3 years ago just to see what moths I would get, I ended up with at least three nice underwings & two sphinx moths.
Post by joniverson on Aug 20, 2019 15:20:05 GMT -8
Today was a total surprise! As I mentioned, I have the two traps that I modified with slotted bottoms. I have them both hanging in my back yard, roughly similar heights in two different trees 150 feet apart. Yesterday, the bulkier and shorter pop up hamper modified into trap got a lot of activity, many horseflies also but quite a number of leps, a few red-spotted purples, question marks, red admirals. Late afternoon yesterday, I had an idea. Since I'm finding stuck and/or dead horseflies in the bait by late afternoon and there are also sometimes hornets present, I had previously read about limiting access to them using a container with perforated holes. I decided to try this today with the stouter pop up trap. I'm not sure whether it was the distance of the perforated holes from the bait or what, but that trap had very little activity. The other, smaller but longer trap ended up getting more activity in leps than I had ever seen in the past! Within a three hour period, I had a dozen red-spotted purples, eight question marks, four red admirals, and a viceroy. There was only one escapee that I knew of, the viceroy. When I approached the trap to attempt extracting the viceroy, it flew out the bottom slot. The performance of the smaller baiter sure surprised me today! I'm not sure of the length of the lep proboscis, but I'm guessing that the perforated holes and barrier were too far from the bait. Too bad, but at least it was worth a try. I tried two barriers above the bait. One had a series of holes that I drilled and the other was a screen glued across spacers above the bait. I'd say there was 1/2" distance between the perforated barrier and bait. Perhaps the leps couldn't reach or were reluctant.
Quick question here, not sure if leptraps can answer, but if not would welcome anyone else. Leps says he mixes up his fruit, sugar, and water then freezes. When he's ready to use, he brings the bag out of the freezer and lets the fermentation run its course. Problem is that I wonder if this can be done for bananas as well, which is primarily what I use for bait. A neighbor told me that once bananas are frozen, later when thawed they won't ripen any further. If true, this completely hijacks the purpose intended. I'd like to find out whether or not it's true before I start freezing a bunch of banana mash solutions. Thanks.