Click here to see the banana bait being made (more)

Preparing traps before putting them out in the forest (more...)

Bait and Bait Traps

Hanging bait traps in the rainforest (more...)

Butterfly in banana bait trap (more...)

Click on an image to see more

Another method I have used in assembling this collection is baiting. While this method is generally used for butterflies in the tropics, it can also be effective in attracting moths that don’t come to lights and don’t fly in the day. Some groups, especially the Geometridae and the Noctuinae (family Erebidae) are regular visitors to fruit bait left out all night. 

 

I start each trip with several dozen bananas and a packet of yeast, mixed together and left out to ferment in the tropical sun. This mixture is very attractive to a number of groups, and I use it in bait traps of my own design and manufacture (you can buy them, but they're expensive and no better than homemade). I also cut bananas into chunks and tie them into sections of nylon -- this keeps them from washing away in the frequent thunderstorms.

 

I check and refresh bait traps throughout the day, constant sweaty work that rewards attentiveness with a wide variety of captive bees, beetles, butterflies, cockroaches, crickets, and the occasional bird. Individuals new to the project are captured and added to the study collection; these specimens eventually find their way to the collection at the Universidad de Panama.

 

Click on an image at right to see more of the work involved in attracting insects with bait.