Many of our encounters with insects are by way of a happy accident.

The flight path of a robber fly happens to take it into our conservatory, a butterfly lands on the path in front of us, or a wasp takes a liking to our picnic. Such chance meetings are, for an insect fan, wonderful punctuation marks in the day but if you want to up your encounter rate then a more active approach needs to be taken.

There are many simple ways to reveal insects in the landscape and everyone should have a crack at a beating tray or a sweep net at some point. But for the pure joy of discovery you cannot beat a moth trap. You could buy one, and there are many excellent commercial models available, but making one from the many plans online is more fun and considerably cheaper.

Put out your trap on a warm summer’s evening (a pleasant job made more so with a glass of something nice) and go to sleep in the knowledge that the next morning you will almost certainly have a fabulous haul of moths unharmed by the trapping process and ready for inspection.

Initially of course it’s the glamorous ones you see, but after a while you get your eye in and all the “little brown jobs” start to resolve into a fantastic wealth of fluttery diversity. Do yourself a favour as well – when you get your moth trap ready, place an order for Paul Waring and Martin Townsend’s Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland.

Just be careful – moth trapping is addictive stuff…

Adam Hart 

University of Gloucestershire