Moth Collecting and Photography

Moth Collecting Back to top

Moth collecting can be an excellent way to learn more about these incredibly-diverse insects, and it can become an addictive activity, if you’re not careful! Moth collecting can also be a good excuse to explore a variety of different natural areas – even places that you might not have even noticed before you started thinking about where to find moths. Be aware that regulations regarding collecting insects vary among states and provinces, so check with your local fish and wildlife department to see if you need a permit to legally collect insects. Also, some natural areas (such as National Parks) prohibit insect collecting.

Building a moth collection takes time and effort, but there are some websites that offer useful tips that can get you started. For a site with lots of tips on collecting and curating techniques, see the Moth Collecting and Curation Techniques page compiled by Bruce Walsh (University of Arizona). Bioquip is a company that specializes in insect collecting equipment and supplies, and is the vendor of choice for many entomologists.

Moth Photography Back to top

Taking pictures of live moths:

There are many websites and blogs with helpful tips for taking pictures of live moths. One of the most detailed such sites is Chris Harlow’s guide to photographing moths. For a compilation of other useful sites, visit the National Moth Week’s moth photography page. In addition, check out this site for more helpful tricks. You may also be interested in looking at some of the websites where dedicated moth photographers have donate their images, including the Moth Photographers Group site, Butterflies and Moths of North America, and BugGuide.

Taking pictures of preserved moth specimens:

Although high-end macrophotography setups can cost tens of thousands of dollars, it is possible to obtain very nice photographs of moth specimens without breaking the bank. Whatever your setup, it is important to have an adequate amount of diffuse lighting, as poor lighting makes specimen photography nearly impossible. For useful tips on taking pictures of moth specimens using an inexpensive setup, see the specimen photography page of the Skeptical Moth. Chris Harlow’s guide to photographing moths also has helpful suggestions for photographing preserved moths (and even moth genitalia).