Moth<<<< Back to insects
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Saturniidae
- Genus: Attacus
- Conservation status: Least concern
- Length: 0.8 - 12 cm
- Lifespan: up to 1 year
- Reproduction: Eggs
The moth is an insect close to the butterfly, both part of the Lepidoptera order. Moths hold the majority of this order, counting almost 160,000 species, almost tenfold the number of butterflies. Most are nocturnal. The study of butterflies is called Lepidopterology, and the specialists are called lepidopterists.
The insect is regarded as a generalist herbivore. It feeds on hundreds of dicotyledonous plants species, almost any kind of fruit crops, ornamental plants, vegetables, greenhouse crops, seedlings, etc. In larva form they cause significant damage to leaves and fruits. It is considered beneficial in some cases because it can kill some invasive plants.
Another unofficial source of food are our clothes. I did not manage to find out why they eat them, because I don’t see what could be digested or tasty in a fur coat, or if they simply eat them for pleasure, but as soon as I find out I will update these lines.
Its body is similar to the butterfly, elongated. Two pairs of wings, but shorter. Adult males have a length of 6-10mm and the females 7-13mm. Can be found in various shades of colors: brown, cream, reddish-brown etc. depending on the species, the base color is brown.
A frequently asked and unanswered question, so far is : Why are moths attracted to light? If there’s a light source in the room, the moth will definitely be close to it. There are several theories on this question. Some say that it’s the bulb’s heat, some say that moths use a celestial space navigation system, maintaining a constant angled course to the light (eg compared to the Moon). Moths, when a light is turned on, will instinctively start flying in spirals to get closer to the light source.
Nocturnal insectivores often feed on moths, these are some species of bats, some owls, probably the smaller species and some species of birds. As predators moths are also eaten by lizards, cats, dogs, rodents etc.
If you did not know there is a phobia of moths (mothphobia). It is obvious that the moth has no way to disturb anyone, not even a child, considering primarly its size and secondly that it has no weapon to make the human fearful. However there are people who are afraid of these small creatures.
Moths are important for various reasons, such as pollination of plants, a process necessary for the formation of seeds. They can also be used for biological control. A classic example was the introduction in Australia of a small moth called cactoblastis to control the spread cactus knows as prickly pear. The cactus invaded large grassland areas and destroyed them. The cactoblastis caterpillars fed on this cactus causing it to rot. The prickly pear was eventually destroyed and the land became grazing land for sheeps again.
The female, larger, will mate with the male and then deposit hundreds of eggs in a safe place. Then the cycle egg, larva, nymph, adult takes it course. The eggs hatch after about 14 days, and pass to the stage of larva that develops in phases (also called ages).
After the larva stage which lasts less than a month , the insect stops eating and will look for a place to attach to (stems, branches, surrounding vegetation). They are oval in this stage and won’t move or feed. In less than two weeks it turns into an adult.
Did you know that:
The Madagascan Sunset is considered one of the most impressive and most beautiful moths.
The White Witch (Thysania Agrippina) is the moth with the largest wings opening.
The Atlas moth (Attacus Atlas) is the largest moth.
In some species the ears are located on the abdomen.