Sunday, 27 January 2013


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Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Arthropoda 
Class: Insecta 
Order: Lepidoptera

Almond moth: larva, pupa and adult
1.  There are many more species of moths than butterflies
Moths make up 90 percent of the Lepidoptera order, whilst butterflies make up only 10 per cent. 

2.  There are four steps in becoming a moth
These are egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa, and adult. Caterpillars shed their skin as they grow, then form a cocoon and change into a moth. This process is called metamorphosis, which comes from the Latin words for "changing shape."
Moth caterpillars spin a silk cocoon. Once a cocoon is spun, the caterpillar turns into a mushy soup during metamorphosis.

3.  Small is beautiful
Tiger moths
The smallest known moths are from the pygmy moth family (Nepticulidae) with wingspans as small as 2 mm. 

4.  Not all moths are petite
The world's largest moth is the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) which has a wingspan as large as 30 cms. 

5. They have scales
The powder that rubs off when you touch a moth's wing is actually tiny scales.  Thousands of tiny scales and hairs cover moth’s wings. The moth sheds these scales throughout its lifetime. Scales on moths are much larger than on butterflies, giving a more dense and dusty appearance.

6. Many adult moths don't eat
Some species of moths don’t have mouth parts, proboscis, for eating when an adult. They rely on their fat reserves stored during the larval stage. 
Comet moth
The adult Luna moth (Actias luna) lives for only a week, emerging from their cocoon only to mate and lay eggs. 

7. Moths are expert sniffers
Although they lack noses they detect odour molecules using their feathery antennae.  
Male giant silkworm moths (Antheraea polyphemus) have elaborate, feather-shaped antennae with hair like scent receptors that allow them to detect a single molecule of a female moth's sex hormone from 7 miles (11 kilometres) away.

8. Moths navigate by the stars in the sky.
Most moths are nocturnal but seem to be attracted to light. They navigate by using the moon as a point of reference and so can easily get confused by other light sources such as outdoor lights.

Hummingbird Hawk moth
9. Moths often mimic other animals
Many moths are day fliers and will mimic bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. To avoid being eaten, some moths have evolved to look like less palatable insects, such as wasps, tarantulas and the praying mantis. Some moths even mimic bird droppings. Tiger moths (Arctia caja) produce ultrasonic clicking sounds that effectively jam bat sonar, inhibiting the bat's ability to find them.

10.  There are a lot of them!
Scientists have identified some 200,000 species of moths world wide and suspect there may be as many as five times that amount.

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