Catocala relicta Sugaring

(extract of Nouv' ailes, AEAQ, Vol. 4 #1-2; Les trucs du métier)

The trick of Louis Handfield


The pleasure of sugaring! If you knew all the pleasure which hides behind this way of capturing certain moths. The term "sugaring" means a simple mixture of natural elements, such alcohol, sweetens, fermented fruits, etc. There is no crowned exclusive. I do not always use the same recipe, I try to use what I have at my disposal. Let us say that my usual recipe is composed of a mixture of sugar (white or brown), of alcohol (beer, wine or strong alcohol such as rum), of vinegar of malt (natural) and molasses. I mix the whole in order to obtain a semi-fluid paste. Then, with a brush I whitewash each tree at the level of the arms to the twilight. If you install your sugaring too early in the evening, it will dry on the tree trunk and will be less attracting. On the other hand, if it is too liquid, it will run along the trunk and you will have to then capture the butterflies on the ground, which is more difficult. One of my good friends uses another method: he makes a mixture of beer, water, brown sugar, and a little vinegar of malt or of wine, makes sure that the mixture is very liquid and spreads it on the trees by means of a bottle used for spraying pesticide, which is very easy and especially simple to carry and use. I spoke to you about vinegar: never use white vinegar. Always use natural elements. It seems that the use of chemicals makes sugaring the least attractive.

It is always a passion to install sugaring along a path, of a wood edge or directly in timbered and to go back there to capture the treasures that sugaring there attracted. Thay are never stuck to it. How not to be filled with wonder at the beauty of these immense Catocala sitting at the meal which you have just served to them? They seem to us even larger than natural, the colors of the former wings blazing in the light of your flashlight! Often also you will notice the luminescence of the eyes, as if they thanked you for a so good meal!

Generally, the mature trees at the edge of wood give a better result than those inside wood; if it is a path which you choose, the first and the last trees will be generally the best. The trees with thick and strong bark will be better than the trees with smooth bark. Of course, it is not always good : the best moment is at the end of the summer as from July 15 until the end of the autumn. Before these dates, they will not be as successfull. The nights of full moon will be also worse, in the same way the rainy nights or when there are high winds. If your wood is close to a lit road, it is better to place sugaring on the nonenlightened side of the tree. In the same way, in the event of wind, place your sugaring on the side protected from the wind. Pay attention while going in wood to make as little noise as possible, not to light the tree in advance because, thus, you frighten your future captures. If there are several moths on the tree, start to capture the lowest and you will have a chance to capture all of them. If you light an insect, do not speak, do not cut especially the ray luminous and made quickly...

You will be filled with wonder at the marvellous captures which you will make. But do not be discouraged if sugaring does not function, because, you see, it does not function every time !

This method is especially employed for collecting Noctuidae, mainly Catocala.

You can in the same way prepare with leisure your sugaring in advance, like a good wine. The more old and fermented, the better. Old wine, the old beer, old fruits... all that mixed well. Let age with wish. Do not forget to indicate the date of preparation on each bottle of your famous elixir.

A last tip : don't forget batteries for your flashlight and a wet linen to wipe your hands after the installation of sugaring... and good collecting!

Collecting with sugaring

A dream was carried out. By Richard Denis

Since the capture of my first Catocala concumbens, August 14, 1981, in Ville Lasalle, in the old golf of this municipality (which does not exist any more to allow the development of our Society???), I have always been fascinated by this group of Lepidoptera. I succeeded in obtaining by exchanges some common species but always with as much of enthusiasm. Oh! miracle, August 9, 1988 in Covey-Hill, I caught Catocala ultronia.

Following this article of NOUV' AILES, carrying the title " sugaring " of Mr. Louis Handfield, I had fun on July 5 to mix very ripe crushed bananas, to obtain consistency, white sugar, beer, fruit juice, raspberry molasses and vinegar. I placed the whole in a container to let ferment 3 weeks during my trip in Ecuador in order to try the experiment on my return, with still a little scepticism considering my nonprofitable former experiments.

August 7, 1993, I went in Arboretum Morgan. On my arrival in Ste-Anne-of-Bellevue, around 7pm , I installed my luminous trap to attract other moths. Around 8pm, I extended using a brush my magic receipt on mature trees with notched bark and I also tried with trees with smooth bark to check the inefficiency of the latter. At once finished, the sun had lain down and the sky was multicoloured. I thus returned towards my first soft foods. Initially, I lit in direction of my target to admire two Catocala at rest, clearness frightened them and they flew away in opposite directions. I tried with my net to capture them, but they gained their freedom. Instinctively, my reflexes were sharpened. With the second tree, I was more discrete with my flashlight :other individuals were having agastronomical meal. With my 85 kilos, I went as a cat (it should be done !) and I put my net directly on the tree. The two victims were projected into my net. I then had a feeling like my first captures of Dynastes hercules in Venezuela, my first Actias luna, the capture of my first Morpho when I was only on one leg while descending a path with only one hand available at the time (during my trip to Peru !)...

After the capture of some individuals, I noticed that this way of proceeding made them lose their hairs on the top of the thorax. To avoid this accident, it is preferable to approach your future victims gently and to capture them directly on the tree with a jar. If there are several individuals, start by catching that which is at the lower level. If you miss, patience is required (you are not a so bad cook and your customers will come back !).

My collecting night confirmed that the trees placed at the edge of wood give a better result than those inside. For people who do not wish to handle this sticking mixture, there are different receipts much more liquid: (25% beer, 25% vinegar, 25% molasses, 25% white sugar) that it is possible to extend using a bottle with spray (to rinse your container with hot water well later on).

Species captured during this night : 1 Catocala ilia; 5 Catocala palaeogama; 17 Catocala cerogama; 9 Catocala unijuga; 3 Catocala grynea; 5 Amphipyra pyramidoides; 1 Phragmatobia fuliginosa (luminous trap).

You have other techniques for collecting insects? Then you can help me to improve my site by sending your " trick " to me, you will of course be mentioned like the author of the document.