Inexpensive Blacklight Set-up

Bio Quip has what is considered the top of the line blacklight for insects.
https://www.bioquip.com/Search/WebCatalog.asp?category=2900&prodtype=1
The cost was a bit higher than I wanted to spend in order to see just how interested I would be in this type of activity.

I wanted to create an inexpensive blacklight to use in my yard to see what kind of insects I could attract so I went for a stroll through WalMart and Home Depot. What I put together costs less than $20 total and gives me a workable solution. It is by no means as good as the one produced by Bio Quip, but is something that I can easily use for a fraction of the cost.

Bayco 8.5'' Clamp Light
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Bayco-8.5-Clamp-Light/14003467

with a 60W Equivalent Black Spiral CFL Light Bulb
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Feit-Electric-60W-Equivalent-Black-Spiral-CFL-Light-Bulb-BPESL15T-BLB/100553168?cm_sp=BazVoice-_-RLP-_-100553168-_-x

Total cost was about $15.

Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you.

So far I've attracted multiple species of moths, wasps and beetles plus other bugs. With a portable battery I took it out to the desert for the first time and it worked well there too. Some of the linked observations actually have the insect sitting on the inner rim of the light reflector.

Posted by finatic finatic, May 12, 2014 17:52

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Green Cutworm Moth Anicla infecta

Observer

finatic

Date

April 17, 2014 08:58 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019454

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

April 15, 2014 09:03 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ground Beetles Family Carabidae

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 09:17 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Pill Woodlouse Armadillidium vulgare

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 10:11 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Non-biting Midges Family Chironomidae

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 09:21 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 09:20 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

What

Ichneumonid Wasps Family Ichneumonidae

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 08:38 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Convergent Lady Beetle Hippodamia convergens

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 09:18 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 10:14 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Indian Meal Moth Plodia interpunctella

Observer

finatic

Date

April 18, 2014 09:38 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Crane Flies Infraorder Tipulomorpha

Observer

finatic

Date

April 23, 2014 04:43 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Brown Leather Wing Beetle Pacificanthia consors

Observer

finatic

Date

April 24, 2014 09:39 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Four-spotted Yellowneck Moth Oegoconia quadripuncta

Observer

finatic

Date

April 23, 2014 09:48 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019471

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Lesser Cornstalk Borer Moth Elasmopalpus lignosellus

Observer

finatic

Date

April 24, 2014 09:42 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

What

Carpet Moths Subfamily Larentiinae

Observer

finatic

Date

April 21, 2014 09:59 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

What

Mexican Tiger Moth Apantesis proxima

Observer

finatic

Date

April 18, 2014 10:22 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019462

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Dwarf Tawny Wave Cyclophora nanaria

Observer

finatic

Date

April 18, 2014 09:31 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019461

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

April 18, 2014 09:42 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Yellow-striped Armyworm Moth Spodoptera ornithogalli

Observer

finatic

Date

April 29, 2014 09:28 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019485

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Clover Hayworm Moth Hypsopygia costalis

Observer

finatic

Date

April 29, 2014 09:21 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019310

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

April 14, 2014 08:41 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mexican Tiger Moth Apantesis proxima

Observer

finatic

Date

May 2, 2014 10:12 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019760

Photos / Sounds

Observer

finatic

Date

May 1, 2014 09:45 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019750

Photos / Sounds

What

Sperry's Grass-Veneer Crambus sperryellus

Observer

finatic

Date

May 1, 2014 09:49 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019749

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 1, 2014 09:50 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019739

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

V-lined Quaker Moth Zosteropoda hirtipes

Observer

finatic

Date

April 30, 2014 10:25 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019491

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Fortunate Wave Idaea bonifata

Observer

finatic

Date

April 30, 2014 09:56 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019488

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

April 30, 2014 09:37 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

April 30, 2014 09:33 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019486

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Volupial Mint Moth Pyrausta volupialis

Observer

finatic

Date

April 29, 2014 08:26 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Yellow-veined Moth Microtheoris ophionalis

Observer

finatic

Date

April 29, 2014 08:33 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Bluegrass Webworm Moth Parapediasia teterrellus

Observer

finatic

Date

April 18, 2014 08:33 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019455

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Brown Lacewings Family Hemerobiidae

Observer

finatic

Date

April 30, 2014 10:07 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Deduced Graphic Bulia deducta

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 01:21 AM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 01:07 AM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1020069

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 12:59 AM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1020073

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 12:54 AM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1020075

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

White-lined Sphinx Moth Hyles lineata

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 12:50 AM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1020074

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 10:50 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019763

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 10:54 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019767

Photos / Sounds

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 10:52 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1019766

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Non-biting Midges Family Chironomidae

Observer

finatic

Date

May 6, 2014 09:45 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Volupial Mint Moth Pyrausta volupialis

Observer

finatic

Date

May 6, 2014 08:58 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 4, 2014 10:00 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

finatic

Date

May 9, 2014 11:49 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ground Beetles Family Carabidae

Observer

finatic

Date

May 9, 2014 11:50 PM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

Photos / Sounds

What

Arizona Bird-dropping Moth Ponometia elegantula

Observer

finatic

Date

May 10, 2014 12:03 AM PDT

Description

San Diego County, California, US

BAMONA record
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/sighting_details/1020055

Comments

Thumb

Nice. Do you take the reflector off the clamp light? I feel like it might be good to have the light itself as visible as possible. Also, what's your battery setup? Car battery?

Posted by kueda almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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For the battery I use a Black & Decker 500-Watt Portable Power Station
https://www.google.com/#q=BLACK+%26+DECKER+500-Watt+Portable+Power+Station%09
I bought it at Lowes for around $100.
It weighs roughly 10 pounds so I don't carry it too far from the car but could if desired.

As for the reflector, I have been leaving it on so that I can direct the light to a certain spot. But i do plan on playing around with removing it to see if that makes a difference.

Posted by finatic almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Just wanted to let you know I have this setup running as I type this and it's great. I usually use a BioQuip light, but I didn't really want to ship one to New England or buy another, so I followed your advice and went to Home Depot. I have have it on a work lamp with the cage removed, just hanging in front of the sheet, plugged into a wall outlet, so not really worrying about power. I know a guy who really likes the Goal Zero power packs, which would work with an AC setup like this. The light is nowhere near as bright in the visible range as the BioQuip lights, but the moths seem to like it just fine. Anyway, thanks for the tips!

Posted by kueda almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Glad it's working for you. I've run both this set-up and a BioQuip one at the same time and have found that they attract different insects. I haven't done it enough to see if there is a pattern or not.
I agree, it isn't nearly as bright as the BioQuip model, but it is functional and the price can't be beat.

Posted by finatic almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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It could actually be as bright in the UV and we just can't see it. I'd love to see spectrometer readings on the two lights to compare. This post shows data for the Feit bulb. I've been using this observation field to track which insects I've attracted with a UV light, but maybe we should start tracking make/model of the bulb? Like "Attractant light make / model" or something?

Posted by kueda almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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I like that field. I've been using a different field for mine.
http://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields/1010
I can start using the field that you are if you want to intermingle the data. It is probably a better overall field. By and large I am simply amazed at how many different taxa show up at a blacklight.

Posted by finatic almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Cool! Do you need an inverter to use it with the battery?

Posted by northeastnaturalist over 4 years ago (Flag)
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That I don't know. I have an outdoor plug that so just plug it in there.

Posted by finatic over 4 years ago (Flag)
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Neat...I've always wanted a moth trap or black light but never been able to afford it, and I've never met anyone who has had this setup. I might have to take a look into that. How do you stop the moths from circling around and leaving though? Do you have something for them to sit on other than the light itself?

Another quick question: are you able to take photographs at night or do you bring boxes for the good moths and keep them until morning?

Posted by silversea_starsong about 4 years ago (Flag)
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I aim the light at the wall of my house and they sit there. When out in the field I'll hang a sheet.
As for photographing at night, I have a small handheld flashlight and the flash on my camera. Together it usually works well enough. The photos aren't going to make the cover of Moth Monthly but they are usually good enough for ID.

Posted by finatic about 4 years ago (Flag)
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I have the parts on order from Amazon (btw, I set up my Amazon Smile account to donate to Sequoia Audubon, and You Can Too!), and am eager to try this where I am currently cat-sitting in Palo Alto. Bug lamp, here we come. But I am interested in you and @kueda are using the same observation field, and if I should too once this arrives (and the Big Fun arrives with it)?

Posted by gyrrlfalcon about 3 years ago (Flag)
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Oh goddess - wait'll I take this set up to my mother-in-law's house in Florida...

Posted by gyrrlfalcon about 3 years ago (Flag)
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I use the field "Black/UV Light Attracted" and toggle it to yes. I remember to do it most of the time, but not always.

Posted by finatic about 3 years ago (Flag)
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It looks like Home Depot stopped selling the black light bulb. I asked them and they said it was discontinued. The website also no longer shows it.

Posted by silversea_starsong 9 months ago (Flag)
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Ah, that's too bad. I'm sure they have similar bulbs at WalMart or other like stores. I actually saw some yesterday at a Halloween store.
I haven't tried it, but I wonder how well something like this would work. At 395nm the wavelength is decent.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LRQ47Q8/ref=sspa_dk_detail_7?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01LRQ47Q8&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=4b9303cf-595a-449a-b0d6-15d3b199056d&pf_rd_r=V0WAHQ930B5Z5PWY2MK5&pd_rd_wg=isVki&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&pd_rd_w=6qYiA&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pd_rd_r=8d3c8dc1-b200-11e8-861c-cd06ea1130b1

Posted by finatic 9 months ago (Flag)
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Are there any good options that don't require somewhere to plug in? But maybe battery-powered bulbs are not so good...

Posted by silversea_starsong 9 months ago (Flag)
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Check out https://calnature.org/blog/2017/9/27/diy-moth-light. I've been using a setup like that alongside a BioQuip light this summer. My experience has been that these cheap LEDs work just fine. The potential downsides are that I don't think the lights are as bright (impossible to tell without something to measure the UV), and the narrow wavelength might mean they draw in less stuff, but IMO, the cost and portability outweigh both of those. I've been using https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073Y7LRRT, which are nice b/c you can attach them end to end, along with a Anker PowerCore 26800, which is a somewhat more expensive battery than Damon described, but has never run out of juice.

Posted by kueda 9 months ago (Flag)
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Looks like this might be the closest replacement to Damon's setup light right now:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075K6NM8F/ref=ox_sc_mini_detail?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2XMT4I8CH00V7

Posted by silversea_starsong 9 months ago (Flag)

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