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Interesting facts about moths

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We found 16 interesting facts about moths

Butterflies of the night

Many people think of moths as ugly or even repulsive, but they are simply nocturnal butterflies, which sets them apart from their diurnal counterparts. Contrary to popular belief, not all moths are grayish or brownish, there are many species of colorful moths that are sometimes confused with butterflies.

What is surprising is that almost 90% of all butterfly species are moths and that they were the first to appear on Earth and only after millions of years of evolution gave rise to the line of day butterflies. Although they are often underestimated, we owe them more than we realize.


Moths are insects related to butterflies, which, despite having their own characteristics, are classified separately.

Scientific classification does not separate moths from butterflies because they share common characteristics. They differ from them in some design elements and mainly in their nocturnal lifestyle.


Of the 180 species of butterflies, about 160 are moths.

Most are nocturnal, but there are species active before sunrise and after sunset, as well as species active during the day.


They appeared on Earth long before the first day butterflies appeared.

The oldest moth fossils date back 190 million years and belong to the species Archaeolepis mane. Interestingly, moths also appeared before the first flowers, so they had to feed not only on flower nectar, but also on other food. Their food probably consisted of pollen from coniferous trees.


Although it is difficult to determine the anatomical differences between butterflies and moths, one of the criteria is the structure of their antennae.

The antennae of moths are usually hairy and have a pointed end, while butterflies' antennae are thin and smooth with a thickened end.

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The body of butterflies is usually massive and covered with hairs.

This design is supposed to protect nocturnal insects from excessive heat loss. Butterflies are slender, their body cover is smooth.


They have complex superposition eyes—composed of fewer omatidia (eye segments).

These eyes let in more light, but the image they present is less clear. In diurnal butterflies, the appositional eyes are more complex and contain pigment cells.


Like butterflies, moths go through a caterpillar stage before becoming adults.

When entering the pupal stage, most butterflies create a cocoon of silk, while most butterfly caterpillars construct cocoons of hardened proteins.

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A resting butterfly spreads its wings parallel to the ground or keeps them folded and close to the body.

Butterflies, in turn, during rest, place their wings vertically, perpendicular to the ground.


Most moths have a strange tendency to fly around artificial light sources.

The reason for this behavior is not yet known, but one hypothesis is that the moths coordinate their flight relative to the Moon, which allows them to fly straight. When they confuse moonlight with an artificial light source, they are forced to circle it so that it is always in the same position relative to their body.


Some butterfly species play important roles as pollinators.

This applies, for example, to family members Erebids i Sphingids, which are key plant pollinators in Himalayan ecosystems.


Recent research suggests that light pollution in the night sky has led to significant population declines in some butterflies.

This has a very negative effect on the pollination process of some plants.


Due to their lifestyle, they most often fall prey to bats, owls and night owls.

To avoid being caught by a predator, they use various techniques such as camouflage, mimicry and avoidance.


To avoid the threat of bats, moths have evolved sensitivity to ultrasound.

It has been observed that once spotted, they begin to shy away. In this case, some species suddenly fall several centimeters down, changing their trajectory. Other species make their own sounds to confuse bats.


Moths have the largest wingspan of any moth. Tistania Agrippina.

These moths live in South America and Central America. The wingspan ranges from 23 to even 30 cm (among representatives of the Brazilian population). Consequently, it is not only the largest of the moths, but also of all butterflies.


Some butterflies have a characteristic skull-shaped pattern on the upper part of their body.

They come from the genus Acherontia and live in almost every corner of the Earth. A representative of this butterfly species, which can be found in Poland in summer, is the Death's Head butterfly, a butterfly with a wingspan of up to 14 cm and a very interesting coloration. From the middle of the body, below the “dead head”, they are colored similarly to hornets; such facial expressions are designed to provide protection from predators.

The photo above shows a female Death's Head butterfly.


Moth living in Madagascar Chrysiridia ripheus - one of the most beautifully colored representatives of the moth.

Its colorful coloring is due to the fact that it is active during the day. The wingspan is from 7 to 11 cm. Because of its appearance, it is often confused with butterflies. Its wings are highly iridescent, with some colors caused by the interference of visible light waves. The hind wings are equipped with caudate tips (three on each wing).

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