Sunday 6 October 2013

Sugaring and wine ropes

At this time of year there are a declining number of nectar rich plants in flower but still plenty of moth species to see.
One of the best ways to attract moths and do them a good turn is to use a technique known as sugaring whereby a treacly mixture is painted onto fence posts or tree trunks avoiding lichens and mosses which are important habitats for micro-moths.
The recipe is as follows courtesy of Butterfly Conservation website.

Moths will also come to artificial nectar called “sugar”. Heat about 500ml of brown ale (or cola) in a large pan and simmer for five minutes to remove alcohol and other chemicals. Then stir in and dissolve about a kilogram of dark brown sugar, followed by a tin of black treacle. Simmer the mixture stirring well to make sure the molasses have all dissolved and then allow it to cool before transferring it to a suitable container for carrying outside. A drop of rum stirred in before use is recommended, but not essential. Just before dusk, use a brush to paint the mixture at eye level onto tree trunks or fence posts. Check the “sugar” for moths with a torch during the first two hours of darkness.  Store the remainder in a kiln jar or tin and use on other occasions through the season.

 Wine Ropes
An alternative method to sugaring uses thick cord or cloth made from absorbent material. You will need an old fashioned pyjama cord or strips of material 1cm wide by 1m long.  Boil the material for at least 10 minutes to remove chemicals. Heat a bottle of cheap red wine in a pan, stir in and dissolve a kilogram of sugar and, after cooling, soak metre lengths of the cord or twisted cloth in the mixture. Drape these “wine ropes” over low branches, bushes or fences just before dusk and later check for moths by torch-light.

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