Friday, January 7, 2011

Moth Hunting in Japan

Hey guys!

About for our five years back I joined this thing organized by my high school; which was something like a student exchange program with our sister school in Japan. This meant that once we arrived in Kyoto we were all enrolled at the Omi Brotherhood High School and got to stay with some of the Japanese students and their family. The family I stayed at was as interesting as they were nice, and that is to say a LOT! There were alltogether four children (which is quite large as far as Japanese famillies go) the oldest of which was the school's baseball star, of my age (and I went to classes with him) and the youngest, a little girl. They didn't speak much english which meant I had to learn a few simple phrases in Japanese (not to mention finish my host brother's english homework for him) but their Father was fluent enough. Living somewhere along the outskirts, the family owned their own farm and one of the Father's hobbys was moth hunting. I know, call it fate or whatever it is but I managed to get placed in a family that's as lepidoptera crazy as I am! Anyway so they had this really amazing technique of looking for moths around the area that I'm going to share with you.
A sheet of cloth
Alright so what we got here is a really simple looking set up made out of a sheet of white cloth (the size of a blanket) and a regular lightbulb (the kind that you would use in the house). The sheet was hung up on a string strung between two trees (not unlike a clothes line) and the light was set up and place just behind the sheet of cloth. Now, this really doesn't look like much but what it does is, the white cloth reflects the light created by the bulb on a wider surface area creating this rather ghostly white glow around that particular area of the forest. And if you've seen a moth circling around your patio before you will know there's nothing that attracts these night-time lepidoptera like a good light source. (Something about it messes with their navigation system that looks out for the moonlight as a point of reference in direction causing them to dive head-first into artificial lights). So you leave your set up for a couple of hours and when you return, you get something that looks similar to this.
The Moth Ball
It's fairly impressive isn't it, and the amateur lepidopterist (such as myself or Tessei-san) can get a rought estimate on the different moth species that inhabit that current area!
And a different angle to give you a better idea
Now these picture weren't the ones I took in Japan (I seemed to have lost that particular memory card at the moment) so I uploaded instead these pictures which were from Vietnam. But the sight is really quite similar and equally breathtaking. I'm really quite eager to try this in the Malaysian highlands sometime, like Camerons or Mt. Kinabalu perhaps and my only concern is, would there be anyway to do it without behing bombarded every now and then by a clumsily flying moth on the back of one's head or ears (it's really quite unsettling and uncomfortable). Perhaps the next time I'll wear a bee suit... or sit in a wire-wesh cage.

1 comment:

zmah said...

Bestnya kalau dapat ke JAPAN