Moth cloths...Leafhopper Tarps!?

So last night I ended up being on our land later than expected and did not have a white moth sheet to set up, but I had a silver reflective tarp and figured, what the heck. I did get a few moths, but unlike when I set up a sheet, I got a ton of leafhoppers/planthoppers/etc! Is this like…a known thing? I’ve never seen so many when doing a moth night…like…none at all. But I don’t know if it was the time of year, or, that it was a reflective silver tarp rather than a white sheet. Just throwing it out there in case it’s some cool new method that would be useful.


What kind of light were you using?

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The same LED light i have used for moths before, it’s not a ‘real setup’, but it is what I have. Same location as before too. The only changed variables are the silver tarp, and time of year, as the last time I set it up for moths was a end of August (slightly more than a month ago). Also used two other times this summer.

So…far from scientific rigor, but, still was super odd and interesting to the point I thought to mention it for others to try or investigate further?

Sure. But it’s still useful to know what kind of light since insect species often have different wavelength sentitivities.

I love the intent, but that’s also why I’m asking the follow up question: To help clarify for future readers if there was anything particular about what you were doing.

When you say “The same LED light i have used for moths before”, that doesn’t tell me or others too much. Is it a LED flashlight? Does it appear white? If there’s a make and/or model that might allow someone to look it up in the future.

From my work as an experimental scientist, it’s often those key details that make a huge difference and are essential for others to attempt to replicate what one observed. If I use something as simple as table salt, it’s essential for me to record what brand was used, since different brands have unique sets of contaminants and sometimes it’s an unknown contaminant that’s playing an active role.

Light can be similar, since different lights achieve their appearance through mixtures of different wavelengths, bandwidths, and intensities. For moths there are known effects of wavelengths on what species are attracted.


I am not a moth expert, but I have been mothing every night during this pandemic. In addition to the type of light you use, time of year, rain, temperature, humidity, wind, moon phase, flowering plants, can all make a difference in what is attracted and in what numbers. I have used the shiny metal siding of a barn before. It was really effective, but so was a white sheet at that location years later. I have also used a light blue sheet and old cream colored one with ducks printed on it. Hard to compare unless you have two identical nearby setups with different surfaces on the same night. What I have read (possibly untrue) is insects are mainly attracted to the light source, not the light that is bounced/reflected off the sheet.

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I understand! I have a masters in science and worked in a biochemistry lab for over a decade so I understand highly how specific things are helpful, the slightest process difference can change how well a protocol works! I have some reallllly good stories on that xD I’m sure you do to!

I didn’t give more info because I couldn’t. I’m am not and wasn’t trying to be cheeky, I appreciate your interest!

I wish I could help further, it’s literally a old LED three light floor lamp we found in the derelict house on the land and grabbed it to use since it was the only thing working that I could run off the tiny battery we had with us (we have no power), so I don’t want to give inaccurate information. I’ll look at the bulbs next time we are out there and see if there is any writing left on them that would help identify them. I could guess it is “walmart special” since there aren’t any hardware stores nearby, and that is the closest place that would sell LED light bulbs for a common cheep three bulb type floor lamp.

JCIV - The dates & times are on the photos in my observations, so moon phase, time of night, region, time of year, all weather data, all that is gettable :)

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Got it out the other day first time this season. So on the lamp were these bulbs, hope it helps! They’re labeled with color temp etc.

This is my setup NOW (not taken that day in question) only showing to show the exact area, how the tarp was set up (clipped to the wire, as the sheet is in this photo), and the standing lap/battery it’s plugged into. The UV bulbs are a new addition, I was only using the regular light ones last Oct.

Here is from the night, showing the woven style silver reflective tarp, i don’t have a wide angle setup photo from that night


I don’t have a very interesting theory about this, but i’ve seen lots of hoppers attracted to lights too. Particularly at the tropics. And in fact, the time I spent a weekend at a hotel, I saw way more hoppers than moths attracted to the lights around. I had never thought about now until now, and I don’t know if this is good or bad…

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