Fluorescent Pan Traps Affect the Capture Rate of Insect Orders in Different Ways

Insects. 2019 Feb 1;10(2):40. doi: 10.3390/insects10020040.


To monitor and quantify the changes in pollinator communities over time, it is important to have robust survey techniques of insect populations. Pan traps allow for the assessment of the relative insect abundance in an environment and have been promoted by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as an efficient data collection methodology. It has been proposed that fluorescent pan traps are particularly useful, as it has been suggested that they capture high numbers of insects in an unbiased fashion. We use a simultaneous presentation of fluorescent and non-fluorescent pan trap colours to assess how flower-visiting insects of different orders respond to visual stimuli and reveal a significant interaction between trap fluorescence and captured insect type. In particular, Coleoptera (beetles) and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) were captured significantly more frequently by fluorescent traps, whilst Dipterans (flies) were captured significantly less frequently by this type of pan trap. Hymenopterans (bees and wasps) showed no significant difference in their preference for fluorescent or non-fluorescent traps. Our results reveal that the use of fluorescent pan traps may differently bias insect capture rates when compared to the typical experience of colour flower-visiting insects in natural environments. Correction factors may, therefore, be required for interpreting insect pan trap data collected with different methodologies.

Keywords: habitat fragmentation; native insects; pan traps; urban environment.