365 Nature – Day 84

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.


Last spring we had our house rewired, a full electrical upgrade, and as part of the process the electricians replaced our porch lights. Always trying to be as ecologically friendly as possible we put in LED light bulbs at our front and back doors. The downside I never foresaw, was the dramatic decline in moths attracted to our porch lights. I had made it regular practice each morning to check both the front and back doors for moths or other insects. There were dozens of different moths species, and hundreds of individuals at our porch lights in 2013 and 2014. But in 2015 I had only a small handful of moths, and many of those I had found in my moth trap, not at the porch lights. So far this year I’ve only found a couple of plume moths at our porch lights, including one today.

Now I’m having a debate with myself about changing out the LED lights to incandescent bulbs to attract more moths. The downside of course, is with the lights on all night it’s much more energy usage, and I hate to do that. The alternative is to leave the porch lights as they are and set up designated moth lights more frequently. I have a moth trap I created from and old garbage can, lamp shade and light as well as a bug zapper I bought at the thrift store. I deactivated the electrical grid so now it’s just a black light which works well to attract moths and other nocturnal insects without zapping them. Bug zappers are utterly worthless at controlling mosquitoes anyway, better to put them to a good use!

Above is the single moth I’ve found so far in 2016 and below is a selection of moths I found before we installed LED bulbs.

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She founded The Metropolitan Field Guide in 2009 and has contributed articles to aincluding Crosscut, ParentMap and National Wildlife Magazine. She holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

She is currently writing a book about urban nature to be published by Mountaineers Books in 2019.
Kelly Brenner
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