Where to find saturniidae moths?

I have a very bright flashlight and some LED UV lights from amazon, I’m just wondering where would be the best place to use it? I’ve tried many places and no luck, do I need to be at a forest edge, in the middle of a forest or in an open field? I’ve been doing it at 1-4am so time is right. Located in suburban Etobicoke.

3 Likes

To save others the trouble of looking it up: Etobicoke is in Ontario, Canada – part of Toronto. According to Wikipedia’s List of moths of Canada (Saturniidae) - Wikipedia, there should be about 15 Saturniid species in the province.

I do wonder if the suburban location may be producing too much light pollution. Moths tend to come to lights mainly on dark, moonless nights. Are you having success with moths in general and just the Saturniids missing, or are you seeing a lack of moths altogether?

4 Likes

I see other moths all the time (underwings, sphinx moths and other small species). Never saw a saturniid despite there being lots of observations in my area

1 Like

I only saw them twice (we don’t have such a long list of species), both on forest edges, as that is where their caterpillars live, so you can try to go somewhere with no distracting lights and where many plant hosts grow.

1 Like

I’ve had the best luck in warm, humid, moonless nights in the hour or two after sunset.

2 Likes

Saturniids don’t have digestive tracts so typically the adults are only alive for a little over a week, so their short flight periods are likely also a contributor too

2 Likes

Welcome to the Forum!
I don’t know this group well, but it seems like the peak populations are around June. There are observations from the TO area. They seem to fly just after dark and the host plants are things like dogwood. So bush edges rather than an open field. Light pollution (as mentioned) may also affect things. A UV light only attracts moths from about 10 m away, so the closer to bush the better.
@origamilevi is a young collector of this group in Vermont. They may have more information if you wished to contact them.

1 Like

I’ve been on the hunt for Saturniid and Sphingid moths myself, I have yet to see any in the wild. Saturniids are probobly harder to find since they only are able to live as long as they can without food after pupation since the adult moths don’t eat. If you live in the US I’ve noticed the east coast and the south has significantly more Saturniids than the west coast or the midwest.

I’m in a slightly better spot for it (MA and Southern NH) but I tend to see the bigger Saturniids in late summer only sporadically at UV lights - and they don’t stay all night and wait for you in the morning, they show up fairly late and leave again. (I see Rosy Maple Moth reliably at the lights, as well as male Luna moth.)
Stronger rural/city gradient on those than on many of the small moths - if you can go camping or otherwise stay further out of the city, and check around any light sources well into the evening, you might have more luck. Likewise hiking and keeping your eye open for the occasional victim of predation where the wings got left behind.

1 Like

I have had success at both blacklight sheets and using a mercury vapor bulb. I have gotten many rosy maples, one imperial moth, and a polyphemus moth. However, for some of the other saturniids in my area (Maryland) I have only seen them resting on the sides of buildings (luna, more imperials, polyphemus.)

1 Like

Thank you so much for this thread, I was thinking about making one myself! I have found some caterpillers but never the adult moths - even with putting the cloths near where the caterpillers (Io, tulip tree silk, and more!) were seen! We usually do after dark, until couple hours after true dark. I get LOTS of moths, but never a saturniidae…I want to see one so badly. We usually set it not too far from our campfire though, so if other lights are distracting maybe I need to set it further away. We don’t have the campfire blazing though, and there is no other light anywhere near. Both reg and UV we set out. The moonless night is a great clue, and the humidty (although every night in the south is humid!). Thanks for the tips!

1 Like