DIY Skinner Moth Trap

Hi all!

I’m very happy to report that the first run of my homemade moth trap was a success, despite the iffy weather! See the end of this post for photos of the catch…

First I’d like to share with you how the moth box was made (all credit to my lovely boyfriend David!) so that if you would like to make your own you can do so following this simple guide; it really does save a lot of money should only take 2 – 4 hours! There are a few internet sources about making your own moth trap mostly from other blogs (Such as here, here and here) however everyone seems to do it a bit differently so it was more a case of using these for inspiration, doing our own research on what materials are out there and just doing a bit of logical thinking!

We went for a Skinner trap over a Robinson one just because it seemed an easier/cheaper option with what materials were available. This was done on a budget but once you get the basic design down you can then go on to upgrade/improve your moth box (e.g. by making it battery rather than mains powered) as we intend to do when we have the money, or you can just spend a bit more in the first place. Total cost came to around £40, pretty good considering buying one of these would set you back more than £100!

So, here’s a step step by step guide on how we made our Skinner moth trap….


Numbered Tool Pic

  1. Wood Saw.
  2. Surform – For taking the edges off of cut wood to prevent splinters – A rough piece of sand paper will also do the job.
  3. Hack Saw.
  4. Set Square.
  5. Tape Measurer.
  6. Bradle or point – for making holes in the plastic box and for making starting holes the wood for the screws.
  7. Screw driver (with changeable heads depending on what screw you use).
  8. Spirit Level.
  9. Permanent pen that will mark plastic and a pencil.
  10. A single piece of fine sandpaper.
  11. Hand Clamps – For holding the perspex down while you saw it; other clams or holding systems may work just as well.
  12. Screws – approximately 12 depending on what you use – no longer than 1.5 CM
  13. A work bench or level work surface that is not going to move or rock.


Numbered Material Pic

  1. A Box – There are several options for this, primarily you need something with flat sides that dose not dip in or wave to accommodate handles. We used a Recycling tub as issued by the council, your other options are to use a collapsible box like the one used in this design. Or any other box of around the dimensions 50cm X 40cm with a depth of around 30cm or more.
  2. A piece of perspex big enough to cover the top of the box – a good place to buy it from is here I would recommend getting a piece at least 4mm thick.
  3. A light – For this design you need an Actinic tube. We used a 15 watt mainly because it was the right length as the length seems to vary with wattage, however I’ve seen anything form 6w – 40w used. We have found the best place to get these is from an aquarium suppliers; we got ours from here.
  4. Wiring and power – For those who can’t be bothered to wire things (like us) you can buy a waterproof power supply for your Actinic tube from an aquarium suppliers; we got ours from here. While the connection to the light bulb is water proof the actual power pack is not and they are mains supplied so they can only be used a little bit out side the house. Alternately you could look in to ways of making it wireless with a self contained power pack or maybe use a waterproof junction box, but we haven’t looked in to these options yet.
  5. Wood – You will need enough wood to create a beam across your box and create two stops to hold your perspex in place. The piece across the box will need to be the length of the box (so approximately 50cm in our case) then an additional 10cm or so per stop.  So 70cm in total of 4cm by 1.8cm plank.
  6. Something to hook the beam with the light on onto the box – We used two fixings for a blind however any bendable metal bracket will do.


Step one: Making the light beam

  1. First you must cut your wood so it is the right length to fit just inside your box – 49cm was the perfect length for this one. Use your surform or sand paper to remove any splintery edges left.IMAG0870
  2. Next attach your brackets too the beam – you need to have already bent them to fit the box and drilled holes in them so they can be screwed onto the beam. Luckily mine already had holes in the right places and didn’t need any bending.
  3. To attach them line one up with the end of the piece of wood and make a pencil mark in the two screw holes, remove the bracket and use your bradle to make to holes to help start the screws, put the bracket back over the holes and screw it on firmly. IMAG0874
  4. Do the same for the other end but first make sure you get the other one in the right place so it sits on the box and position the lose bracket at the optimum place, make sure you haven’t made it too long or too short.
  5. Next you need to attach your brackets for holding the light – these are supplied with the power pack if you bought the one we suggested. To do this mark the two places the brackets screw holes line up on the wood and then remove the bracket and make holes with the bradle then screw it on, taking care to make sure it is straight.
  6. Repeat this for the opposing bracket but first place the light (wired into the power supply) into the fixed bracket so you can measure how far along the unfixed bracket needs to be to mark the holes, bradle it and screw it on. IMAG0879

You have no successfully made the light beam and if done properly it should sit nicely on top of your box.

Step two: Fixing the Perspex in place

  1. First of all you need to cut two fixings to hold the Perspex in place inside the box – these can be cut out of wood. You begin by sawing your remaining piece of wood in to two 10cm (approximately can be anything from about 5cm to the width of the box) pieces.
  2. Next you measure a 2cm section in the middle – this is the section that will stop the two pieces of Perspex meeting in the middle. You then measure a drop of around 1cm down and then draw a line out the edge, the two boxes in the corners you have just created you are going to saw out. Do this twice to make both pieces. Use your surform or sand paper to remove any splintery edges left. IMAG0899
  3. Next you have to attach these to the inside of the box – the first trick is finding the middle of the box; to do this I measured across the width of the box and made a mark with my permanent pen. Next I used a set square on this mark to decide how far down they should go (I chose a drop of 10cm because it looked about right). IMAG0903IMAG0921
  4. Then line the middle of one of your stops up with this and make four holes with your bradle all the way through the plastic – these don’t have to be precise so long as they aren’t wildly out of place and aren’t going to make the stop wonky.
  5. Then you screw one end of the stop in tightly and you a spirit level to make sure its level before screwing then other end in. Repeat this process for the other side making sure you use exactly the same measurement for the middle and the drop so your stops are both in line. IMAG0909
  6. Then two last things you have to do is cut the Perspex so it fits in to the box and then cut it in half. If you are super lucky you will be able to buy a piece that’s perfect for your box. If not (like us) you will have to cut a slight bit off the end. I suggest doing this before sawing it in half as then you only have to make one cut on one piece not two cuts on two pieces. I had to cut 5mm or so off the end of ours to make it the right width. IMAG0939
  7. Then you just have to cut the Perspex in half – when cutting Perspex I found the best way to do it was to clamp it to your surface with hand clamps then cut through it with a hack saw (a tenon saw or wood saw don’t really work) however when doing the long cut across the middle you may find that the hack saw won’t reach even if you cut from both sides. To tell the truth I snapped the last little bit I couldn’t get the saw to reach but it snapped straight and worked out well. IMAG0944
  8. Finally rub the cut edges of your Perspex down with some fine sand paper just to take the roughness out and you should have a finished moth trap IMAG0953

So there you have it! You’ll need some egg crates to put inside the box to provide somewhere for the moths to hide and rest; ask at your local green grocers or veg market, they are usually happy to give you some of their used ones as they will only throw them away. 

Obviously we are no experts but all I can say is that this is what we did – and it works! Maybe not as well as if you were to go and spend £200 on something but still, I’m pretty happy with what we have produced with £40 odd!

I say we but it was all David really! 😉

Here is what I caught the other night, despite a little bit of rain:

Cypress pug, Eupithecia phoeniceata

Cypress Pug Eupithecia phoeniceata

Square-spot Rustic, Xestia xanthographa

Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa


Setaceous Hebrew Character, Xestia c-nigrum

Setaceous Hebrew Character Xestia c-nigrum


Flounced Rustic Luperina testacea – my friend pointed out that this guy looks like he has an old fashioned fur stole around his neck which made me chuckle 🙂 


Light Brown Apple Moth, Epiphyas postvittana

Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana


Any questions feel free to ask 🙂

Will have another go when the weather clears up a bit!