Is this ordinary? Raccoon eating moths off the illuminated sheet

I’m curious whether this behavior is generally seen?

Raccoons are opportunistic foragers. I would not necessarily assume the raccoons are “getting desperate” as seems to be your concern in the observation comments. Many obligate and facultative insectivores know to take advantage of anthropogenic light sources as places to get an easy meal.


When we went to the Kgalagadi years ago, what would they have been, mongoose? came into the camp to pick dead insects off car radiators.


I’ve seen birds doing that in the UK. At a motorway service station a pied wagtail was checking all the newly arrived trucks for fresh bugs and jackdaws will sometimes do it in car parks. Always when I don’t have a decent camera handy of course.
I get a lot of spiders around my regular moth trapping site. Some in webs but others running in to grab an insect if they can. I squashed a vine weevil that came to the trap (they’re a destructive invasive species here) and a spider ran off with the corpse.


I’ve seen a toad take up residence beneath a permanent blacklighting station. It was a very well-fed toad!


At my Shreveport LA condo, the house sparrows had learned to do the same. They’d be waiting in the driveways in the afternoon, about the time people got home from work. I’ve never seen house sparrows do this in the many other cities I have lived.


Geckoes, for sure!


I have heard bird banders tell of how birds of prey have tried to catch the song birds caught in their mist nets.

Birds of prey regularly frequent bird feeders to catch the smaller birds that come for the seeds.

Here in Northeast Ohio the gulls follow the big ore boats up the Cuyahoga River in winter because the propellers chop up and stun the fish. It’s easy food for them. In fact, they are very picky about which fish they catch preferring the ones that are still alive.

Animals can learn to take advantage of such situations.

1 Like

I often see wasps and sparrows flying near cars and eating dead insects off them.


Yes, this is quite common here in the forest of SE Ohio. I’ve had to put a fence around two of my moth stations.

1 Like

I think it is due to the opportunistic nature raccoons have, so I won’t be too surprised.

Reminds of a time where this toad came over to a light trap and started gobbling up the flying termites that came by.


Omnivorous mammals (and toads) of several species (skunks, opossums, raccoons) sometimes are found below security lights feasting upon the insects. Your raccoon may be familiar with that protocol and was drawn in to your light.


Black bears and grizzlies are known to prey on cutworm moths when they are locally abundant and hiding during the day, so there must be nutritional value for such large mammals to even bother with them.

1 Like

Closer to the vertebrate example you offer, twice I’ve had to shoo away Striped Skunks from my moth sheets on camping trips in the wilds. That’s a tricky interaction! I watched one in Arizona reach up and grab a big sphinx moth off my sheet. Luckily, I had already photographed that individual moth. No data lost!
Just remembered that I had documented one of those occasions:


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.