Moths – Ten Interesting Facts About These Underrated Insects
There are 150,000 – 250,000 species of moths worldwide, with thousands more that are yet to be described.Moths are related to butterflies, so are both part of the Lepidoptera order of insects.Moths are nocturnal, so they sleep during the day and are active through the night. There are some species that are diurnal, so they are active during the day and sleep at night whilst others are crepuscular, meaning they are active at twilight. The study of moths and butterflies is known as lepidoptery, whilst watching moths as a past time is known as mothing.
- Most moths are plain coloured for camouflage, however, the day flying moths can be quite colourful and usually toxic. Similarly, not all butterflies are bright coloured, for example the Cabbage White butterfly is quite plain.
- The moth larva, otherwise known as a caterpillar, makes a cocoon to protect the pupa. This is spun from silk. It will then emerge as a fully grown moth with wings.
- Some moth caterpillars shed their larval hairs to use as part of their cocoon construction. This then makes them an irritant if touched. Others will attach twigs, leaves and even faecal pellets to help protect them against predators.
- The Bombyx Mori moths are the main species of moth that is farmed for their silk production. These are domesticated moths and it is their larvae, commonly known as silkworms that produce the silk.
- Most adult moths don’t actually eat as most of the large species of moth have no mouth. Other moths drink nectar.
- The larvae of some of the moths in the Tineidae family are regarded as pests as they eat fabric, usually clothing made from silk or wool.
- There is no known explanation as to why moths are attracted to light. There are several hypotheses, ranging from navigation to a form of visual distortion. The attraction to candles is thought to be due to the infrared spectra of the flame. It is stated that it may contain emission lines that and vibration frequencies that are similar to those of the female pheromones.
- The Death’s Head Moth is associated with the supernatural and evil, often featured in films and art. There are actually three species and they all emit a loud squeak if irritated.
- The Atlas Moth is the largest in the world, with a wingspan of between 25-30 centimetres or 10-12 inches. They are said to be named after the Greek God Titan or the map-like pattern on their wings.
- The main differences between moths and butterflies are that moths have comb-like or feathery antennae, whereas the butterfly has thin, slender antennae, usually club shaped at the end. Moths also have wing coupling mechanisms. Moths also tend to have hairy or furry-looking stout bodies, whilst butterflies tend to be slender and smooth.
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