Gone With The Wind

General discussion on entomology
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58chevy
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Gone With The Wind

Post by 58chevy »

During the past decade, mercury vapor lights have been replaced by LED lights on most outdoor buildings & gas stations. The MV days are most likely gone forever. About 70% of the specimens in my collection are the result of collecting at gas stations & other lighted buildings when they had MV bulbs. I used to drive around from sunset to sunrise and come home with dozens or hundreds of bugs that were of interest to me. Since LED has taken over, the number of insects has been drastically reduced and it's no longer worth the drive, especially considering the price of gasoline these days. I still have my generator & MV light rig, but it's a hassle to haul that stuff around compared to just hopping out of the car and grabbing what's there. When I use the light rig, I'm pretty much confined to the same location for the entire night. If nothing comes in, the night is wasted. When I used to go gas-station hopping, I would just move to the next location if nothing was there. It was like having light rigs set up all over the place and usually resulted in more variety than collecting at one spot. I miss those days. Do any of our forum members still collect at lighted buildings & parking lots? I'd like to hear your comments.
Chuck
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by Chuck »

When I travel by car I take the bucket trap with 18W UV. Better than nothing, and got me three Lucanus Capreolus this summer.

And I'm always looking around, particularly on the ground, everywhere I go. I picked up a forth capreolus at a rest station on I71. I pulled a new (to me) Catocala dead out of a hotel window this year. And all manner of Coleoptera I pull off hotel walls under lights, etc. I do laps of the hotel. When the wife wants to shop at an outlet mall, I do laps of the mall. I also check hotel pool filters. I check behind hotel doors, and stairways can be pretty good- last year I got an Owlfly (Ascalaphidae ) in Virginia Beach. The catch rate is small, but it adds up a large schmidt box every month in summer.

The good old days are dead, and they are not coming back. So I make the best of it.

BTW @jhyatt- I looked at the range of the NA Owlflies and sure enough, it follows the Terminus of Southern Aggression.
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kevinkk
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by kevinkk »

things do change, and when I was younger, some time ago.. I'd go make street light rounds. That was in the late 70's & early 80's. Things are different now.
In a number of respects, You cannot go "creeping" around" after midnight without some modicum of risk, either from law enforcement or their
customers.
Sure. When I go collect at night, we stay, we set up a camp, it's a lot of work for what amounts to a few hours, sometimes it pays, sometimes
not. I miss simpler times, but that's rocking chair stuff, those days ain't coming back. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere without light
pollution, or have some acreage, you've got more choices. Each year, I have favorite spots, but time passes, and we go out driving
hundreds of miles to a known, or sometimes a new spot, but that's typically once a week starting after Memorial Day Until Labor Day, I assume
we miss quite a bit, but we also cover a fair amount of flight time in various areas. This season had some surprises, which was, well- not expected.
To answer the question- no, I don't visit buildings or parking lots after dark, I don't have control over those spaces, like I do out in the woods.
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jhyatt
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by jhyatt »

I used to visit a great gas station right on the TN/VA border, at the bottom of a steep wooded valley not far from home. Took some wonderful things off their white-painted walls beneath the eave-mounted continuous fluorescent tubes, which were over 3 sides of the building. Then one early summer a few years ago I decided to check it out, and to my dismay found that they had repainted the place dark brown! Not a moth or beetle to be seen. Same fluorescent tubes shining brightly, but without the reflective white walls, no joy at all. After several useless visits, I no longer bother to stop there.

I don't know if many other states have them, but in TN and GA there's a chain of giant fireworks "superstores", usually found near interstate highways, that are big white-painted barns with really bright MV lighting shining on the walls and the parking lots. These can be excellent collecting. I once found Sphinx frankii absolutely common on the ground at one of these!

Cheers, and keep hunting,
jh
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Paul K
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by Paul K »

Indeed these days are gone here in Canada too.
I found two seasons ago last gas station around my neighbourhood with MV lights and I was collecting there quite few times, wasn’t great but few new species always were there, once the gas station employee told me that there was another man tonight looking for flies too ( he didn’t know that these flies are actually moths!). I never met that person there.
This spring I drove there to only find out that all MV have been replace by LED !!, nothing was there and I don’t bother to drive there anymore or even look for another place as it seems that most if not all lights are replaced now.
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mothman55
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by mothman55 »

Like the others, I also did a lot of collecting from lights at stores, schools, maintenance garages, basically any building in a remote area that was lit up. Any time I needed hyalophora columbia, I would drive to Perry Sound, Ontario and drive the back roads, stopping at any bright light. Always had a few favourite spots, like a well lit maintenance garage, always good for silks and sphinx, and generally a columbia. But as I have pretty much caught every species of sphinx and silk in the area, I don't go to these extremes anymore.

Had a couple of experiences that also made these trips less frequent. Got stopped by the police once checking the lights at a liquor store at 1am, and then there was the time I ran into a black bear checking another set of remote lights. So these days I settle for setting up my MV at the cottage, not as productive as driving around, but a lot less effort.
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bandrow
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by bandrow »

Hi All,

Wow - does this thread bring back memories!

Back in the mid-70's, I would walk the neighborhood on summer nights, checking my neighbors' porch lights. Many would intentionally turn them on for me, and once I passed, turn them out. I would walk up on the porch, and if someone was in their living room watching TV (black and white, 3 channels) with their front door open, I might get a "Any neat bugs tonight, Bob?" I can't imagine that behavior being possible now - one would get shot. The old game of "ding dong ditch" is now a subject for apoplectic hysteria on our local NextDoor SM platform.

And then I always checked all the bath house and restroom lights at the state parks, walking from one building to the next. Never got any hassle, although did get questioned about what I was looking for. Nowadays, I'd surely be reported as a "sexual predator". However - that doesn't stop me! In April, I was passing through NC on the way home and stopped at a couple of parks to see them in the daytime along the way. I checked inside some men's restrooms and found some leftover beetles from the night before - the very species of Phyllophaga I was hoping for. It was one I am working on now (a potential new species from GA is closely related). I found a couple in the men's side, so I had my wife guard the door of the women's side while I checked it out - got close to a dozen on the floor and in the sinks!

Those fireworks stores that jhyatt mentioned are still gold mines in the right places. One west of Chattanooga, TN was great, but not sure if it has changed the lights recently. And when I used to live in Ohio, I would drive from Columbus to Lake Hope State Park to collect for the evening with my UV rig, and then stop at a dozen or so bath houses, utility buildings and the lodge to check lights before leaving. On the way home, there were several gas stations that produced good stuff, usually keeping me from getting home until around 5 a.m. - and up and into work at 10:00 a.m.

My wife has a sister who lives in Statham, GA and I found a small church nestled in some woods with a cemetery just outside of town. It has two MV security lights and has produced some good stuff the few times I've visited. I found the same setting outside of Lenoir City, TN where her brother lives. In the rural South there are numerous little churches, fire stations, gas stations, restaurants, etc, situated out in the middle of nowhere that still run MV lights, but I'm sure those will all slowly disappear as the lights burn out and can't be replaced.

Had one hilarious experience at a rest area in MS back in 1986. I was driving from OH to TX and stopped at about 3 a.m. along the freeway for a break and to check some lights. I saw a big cerambycid high on a back wall, just about 2 feet out of my net's reach. I found an empty trash can, turned it over, got up on top and was just catching the beetle when a woman came around the corner and said "Just what are you doing?". I told her "I just got hired by the highway department and they told me to come out and clean up all these bugs." She responded, "that's horrible, but a job well done is something to take pride in, no matter how lowly it is." I'm still proud to this day of that BS I came up with.

While I prefer to set up the MV rig in good habitat and work the lights for a night, one can't pass up "free bugs" along the way to and from...

Cheers!
Bandrow
Chuck
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Re: Gone With The Wind

Post by Chuck »

I know of zero places lit by MV. It would be great to know where along my drives they are.

This sounds crazy but it would work: use iNat to mark locations and date of places with MV. We “hide” it by putting it under some nondescript species nobody cares about.
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