What is a Moth?
Moths, butterflies, and skippers belong to the superfamily of lepidopterans. This means that they share a common ancestor called “archaeolepis.” Lepidoptera comes from the Greek words ‘leps,’ meaning scale, and ‘pteron’ for the wing. This, however, is only true for butterflies; while most moths also possess scales, some species do not, e.g., some species of Geometridae (the group comprising 11% of all species of Lepidoptera). There are an estimated 135 families of moths in the world with more than 160,000 different species. Moths vary greatly in size; some can be as small as 1.5-2.0 mm, while the Atlas moth can have a wingspan of up to 25cm.
Moths are nocturnal insects, meaning that they are active during the night and rest during daylight hours. However, some species are crepuscular, which means that they are only active at dawn or dusk. Moths fly for different reasons; males will fly in search of mates, whereas females never leave their resting position unless forced to by wind or other factors, e.g., fungal infection or predation. Different species of moths use different methods to attract mates, e.g., pheromones (chemical scents), sound production and vibrations, etc. Some species rely on camouflage instead of using signals to avoid predators, e.g., the ghost moth.
According to scientists who study them at UC Berkeley’s Essig Museum, Moths can be found worldwide except in Antarctica. There are around 160,000 different species of moths out there. These little critters eat clothes, so they are considered destructive. They cost the United States more than 2 billion dollars every year because of their appetite for natural fibers, cashmere, and wool.
Moths are also valuable parts of the ecosystem. They pollinate plants while serving as a food source to other creatures such as bats, spiders, birds, lizards, fish, and rodents. The larvae of many moth species are major agricultural pests that eat crops like wheat, corn, or rice.
How do Moths look?
Moth identification can be difficult because of their similarities to other types of insects. However, some clues can help you identify just what kind of moth you’re looking at.
Colorful wings with distinct patterns are the most obvious clue for moth identification. Moth colors range from white, yellow, or greenish-yellow to black or gray to red and brown. The different colors indicate different species; pale-colored moths usually feed on plants, while darker ones eat animal matter like birds’ eggs and dead animals. Some types of caterpillars also have brightly-hued markings that help them blend into their surroundings as camouflage against predators like birds and lizards. The spots on leopard moths (the larvae stage of this moth species), for example, look like eyes. The wings themselves can be furry or scaly and either straight or curled.
Moth identification is also possible by looking at the wings’ shapes, indicating whether you’re looking at a butterfly (with rounded wings) or a moth (with more angular wings). Some moths’ antennae are feathery, while others have simple stick-like structures. Moth mouthparts consist of a long tube-like “tongue” called a proboscis that, when unfurled, can reach far enough to eat leaves high on trees. A few moths are even able to create sounds via stridulation with their genitals!
The best way to determine precisely what type of moth you’re looking at is to do some research on the subject. Many bookstores, libraries, and online sources offer identification guides that can help you learn about your new friend. Not only will this help you decide if the moth is harmful or not, but it can also give you more insight into its life cycle and behavior.
How long do Moths live?
The average life expectancy of moths is really not that long. A moth’s lifespan on average tends to range from anywhere four days up to approximately two weeks. If a moth lives for less than this amount, it does not yet have the capability to reproduce.
The shorter a moth’s lifespan, the more likely it is that its body will end up getting eaten by predators or die due to other natural causes. Moths typically live longer when they are in their cocoon stage of development, as they are protected inside of their cocoons and do not need to worry about any natural factors harming them. However, once they hatch out of their cocoons after they have developed into adults, their average lifespan can vary drastically depending on many different variables.
A moth can be more likely to live longer if it has more food, making the climate where it lives an important factor in how long it can survive.
New research by scientists at the University of California-Riverside has found that moths have a specific gene that allows them to adjust their lifespan in response to environmental cues.
The researchers tested this hypothesis by altering a gene responsible for dopamine production in a group of fruit flies and measured how it affected their lifespan. They expected the flies with the modified gene to die earlier than usual since dopamine is associated with movement and locomotion. However, they found that these mutant flies lived either longer or shorter than average.
This suggests that if living conditions are unfavorable, moths will live less long to invest energy into reproduction rather than long-term survival. On the other hand, favorable living conditions corresponded to more relaxed moth behavior, causing them to live longer.
The researchers studied the genetic mechanisms underlying this moth life-history plasticity by looking at dopamine’s effect on several genes involved with longevity and metabolism, finding one gene in particular that seemed to regulate the entire process: White Collar-1 (WC-1). They tested this by mutating the same dopamine receptor gene in a population of nematodes and found it shortened their lifespan as expected but also caused them to become infertile well before reaching the end of their average lifespan. When they further mutated WC-1, however, the worms were able to reproduce even as they age past their average lifespan.
The research team is confident that these results can be extrapolated to other species as well as moths. In particular, they are interested in looking at the effect of excess dopamine levels, which are associated with several psychiatric conditions.
How to get rid of Moths?
There are different opinions on how to get rid of moths. Some people suggest mothballs, while some others suggest boric acid. Both solutions have their pros and cons. Mothballs are poisonous to humans; therefore, you should be careful where to keep them for your safety after buying the product. Moreover, these ball-shaped particles can cause respiratory problems if inhaled in large amounts over time. On the other hand, boric acid is not that dangerous as it has no smell or odor, but it’s also pretty hard to clean up all the droppings because they are usually small white powdery granules that stay on fabric surfaces for a long time unless brushed away by stiff brush or vacuumed up.