Sunday, 19 January 2020

Time for a lick of paint

In the summer of 2018, I bought a Skinner trap made of uncoated, exterior-quality plywood. I selected a wooden trap partly because it was relatively cheap, but also I wanted to avoid plastic.  It got limited use until the summer of 2019. As last autumn wore on, we had damp weather more frequently, and although I don't run the trap when rain is likely, there were several times that I was caught out by unexpected showers or by condensing fog. The consequence of this - and then storing the trap in the garage - was that mildew started growing on the bare wood. To keep the trap above the damp lawn, I was putting it on a wallpaper table, which also started to get a bit of mildew.

I recently determined that I needed to do something about the mildew problem, so I decided to paint the trap and the table. As I've now worked out a way to run two traps in the garden simultaneously, I also bought a second, identical trap and table. It has taken about ten days to sand down the old trap, and to apply two coats of paint to all four items.

I opted to paint them white to increase the amount of light reflected and thus the attractiveness to moths. It will also help me to see moths that have hidden on/under the table - on several occasions last year, despite what I thought was a careful check while unloading the trap, I failed to notice some moths until I was putting the kit away. I also decided to use black paint in the inside of the trap behind where the egg trays are put, to encourage the trapped moths to settle down. My original intention was to use matt black as being less reflective than gloss, but when I went to the local DIY store, I had to settle for "eggshell".

Here are some "before" and "after" photos. One photo shows how the trap and table should look (these are actually the identical models that I bought last week). The adjacent photo shows how mouldy the original trap had become - I took the photo after I had started to paint the fiddly bits as the new paint highlights the contrast.
As it became: mildew-covered trap
(painting under way)
Original condition (new trap/table)

The last two photos show the original trap (and table) after painting, with a close-up showing the black interior. The white "streaks" in the corner are actually very small gaps between the sides, through which the white paint outside is showing.
Detail of  interior

Trap & table after painting

Originally, the traps could be dismantled. The wood is cut to rather broad tolerances and whereas there are 2mm gaps in some places, other parts were a tight fit even when not painted. Before I started painting them, I realised that I would lose the ability to dismantle the traps, but I decided that would be OK as I almost never do it anyhow.

I was away for three weeks over Christmas and New Year and when I add time spent painting, it's just over a month since my last trapping session at home.  So I'll start again in a couple of days, when the nights aren't frosty any more.  Now I'll have two identical sets of equipment that I can use simultaneously, in order to simplify my actinic-vs.-LED light comparisons.

Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

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