World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Moth

 

Moth

Moth
Hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
(unranked): Heterocera

Moths comprise a group of insects related to butterflies, belonging to the order Lepidoptera. Most lepidopterans are moths and there are thought to be approximately 160,000 species of moth,[1] many of which are yet to be described. Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are also crepuscular and diurnal species.

Contents

  • Differences between butterflies and moths 1
  • Etymology 2
  • Caterpillar 3
  • History 4
  • Economics 5
    • Significance of moths 5.1
    • Predators and parasites of moths 5.2
  • Attraction to light 6
  • Notable moths 7
  • Gallery 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Differences between butterflies and moths

While the butterflies form a monophyletic group, the moths, comprising the rest of the Lepidoptera, do not. Many attempts have been made to group the superfamilies of the Lepidoptera into natural groups, most of which fail because one of the two groups is not monophyletic: Microlepidoptera and Macrolepidoptera, Heterocera and Rhopalocera, Jugatae and Frenatae, Monotrysia and Ditrysia.[2]

Although the rules for distinguishing moths from butterflies are not hard and fast, one very good guiding principle is that butterflies have thin antennae and (with one exception) have small balls or clubs at the end of their antennae. Moth antennae can be quite varied in appearance, but in particular lack the club end. The divisions are named by this principle: "club-antennae" (Rhopalocera) or "varied-antennae" (Heterocera).

Etymology

The modern English word "moth" comes from Old English "moððe" (cf. Northumbrian "mohðe") from Common Germanic (compare Old Norse "motti", Dutch "mot", and German "motte" all meaning "moth"). Its origins are possibly related to the Old English "maða" meaning "maggot" or from the root of "midge" which until the sixteenth century was used mostly to indicate the larva, usually in reference to devouring clothes.

Caterpillar

Moth larvae, or caterpillars, make cocoons from which they emerge as fully grown moths with wings. Some moth caterpillars dig holes in the ground, where they live until they are ready to turn into adult moths.[3]

History

Moths evolved long before butterflies, fossils having been found that may be 190 million years old. Both types of lepidoptera are thought to have evolved along with flowering plants, mainly because most modern species feed on flowering plants, both as adults and larvae. One of the earliest species thought to be a moth-ancestor is archaeolepis mane, whose fossil fragments show scaled wings similar to caddisflies in their veining.[4]

Economics

Significance of moths

An adult male pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa). This species is a serious forest pest when in larval state. Notice the bristle springing from the underside of the hindwing (frenulum) and running forward to be held in a small catch of the forewing, whose function is to link the wings together.

Some moths, particularly their caterpillars, can be a major agricultural pest in many parts of the world. Examples include corn borers and bollworms.[5] The caterpillar of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) causes severe damage to forests in the northeastern United States, where it is an invasive species. In temperate climates, the codling moth causes extensive damage, especially to fruit farms. In tropical and subtropical climates, the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is perhaps the most serious pest of brassicaceous crops.

Several moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabric such as clothes and blankets made from natural proteinaceous fibers such as wool or silk.[6] They are less likely to eat mixed materials containing some artificial fibers. There are some reports that they may be repelled by the scent of wood from juniper and cedar, by lavender, or by other natural oils; however, many consider this unlikely to prevent infestation. Naphthalene (the chemical used in mothballs) is considered more effective, but there are concerns over its effects on human health.

Moth larvae may be killed by freezing the items which they infest for several days at a temperature below −8 °C (18 °F).[7]

Despite being notorious for eating clothing, most moth adults do not eat at all. Many, like the Luna, Polyphemus, Atlas, Promethea, cecropia, and other large moths do not have mouth parts. Among those adult moths that do eat, they will drink nectar.[6]

Some moths are farmed for their economic value. The most notable of these is the silkworm, the larva of the domesticated moth Bombyx mori. It is farmed for the silk with which it builds its cocoon. As of 2002, the silk industry produces more than 130 million kilograms of raw silk, worth about 250 million U.S. dollars, each year.[8][9][10]

Not all silk is produced by Bombyx mori. There are several species of Saturniidae that also are farmed for their silk, such as the Ailanthus moth (Samia cynthia group of species), the Chinese oak silkmoth (Antheraea pernyi), the Assam silkmoth (Antheraea assamensis), and the Japanese silk moth (Antheraea yamamai).

The larvae of many species are used as food, particularly in Africa, where they are an important source of nutrition. The mopane worm, the caterpillar of Gonimbrasia belina, from the family Saturniidae, is a significant food resource in southern Africa. Another saturniid used as food is the cavorting emperor (Usta terpsichore). In one country alone, Congo, more than 30 species of moth larvae are harvested. Some are sold not only in the local village markets, but are shipped by the ton from one country to another.[11]

Predators and parasites of moths

Tomato Hornworm parasitized by braconid wasps

Nocturnal insectivores often feed on moths; these include some bats, some species of owls and other species of birds. Moths also are eaten by some species of lizards, cats, dogs, rodents, and some bears. Moth larvae are vulnerable to being parasitized by Ichneumonidae.

Baculoviruses are parasite double-stranded DNA insect viruses that are used mostly as biological control agents. They are members of the Baculoviridae, a family that is restricted to insects. Most baculovirus isolates have been obtained from insects, in particular from Lepidoptera.

There is evidence that ultrasound in the range emitted by bats causes flying moths to make evasive maneuvers because bats eat moths. Ultrasonic frequencies trigger a reflex action in the noctuid moth that causes it to drop a few inches in its flight to evade attack.[12] Tiger moths also emit clicks which can foil bats' echolocation.[13][14]

Attraction to light

Moths frequently appear to circle artificial lights, although the reason for this behavior remains unknown. One hypothesis to explain this behavior is that moths use a technique of celestial navigation called transverse orientation. By maintaining a constant angular relationship to a bright celestial light, such as the moon, they can fly in a straight line. Celestial objects are so far away, that even after travelling great distances, the change in angle between the moth and the light source is negligible; further, the moon will always be in the upper part of the visual field, or on the horizon. When a moth encounters a much closer artificial light and uses it for navigation, the angle changes noticeably after only a short distance, in addition to being often below the horizon. The moth instinctively attempts to correct by turning toward the light, thereby causing airborne moths to come plummeting downward, and resulting in a spiral flight path that gets closer and closer to the light source.[15]

Notable moths

Moths of economic significance

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^
  2. ^ Scoble, MJ 1995. The Lepidoptera: Form, function and diversity. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 404 p.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
    Evolution of Moths and Butterflies
    Studying the evolution of butterflies and moths is challenging, since fossils are so rare. But the few Lepidopteran fossils that exist, captured in amber or compressed in fine-grained rocks, show an astonishing amount of detail. The earliest Lepidopteran fossils appear in rocks that are about 190 million years old. These tiny fragments of scaled wings and bodies clearly indicate that moths evolved before butterflies.
  5. ^ The First Decade of Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States. USDA.
  6. ^ a b Scott, Thomas (1995). Concise Encyclopedia Biology. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-010661-2.
  7. ^ Choe, D.-H. "Clothes Moths" in How to Manage Pests: Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets. University of California
  8. ^
  9. ^ gives silk prices in rupees. Exchange rate is about 50 RS to dollar.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Food Insects
  12. ^
  13. ^ Kaplan, Matt (July 17, 2009) Moths Jam Bat Sonar, Throw the Predators Off Course. National Geographic News
  14. ^ Some Moths Escape Bats By Jamming Sonar (video). npr.org. July 17, 2009.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Brundage, Adrienne (March 23, 2009), Other Arthropods of Forensic Importance, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University Forensic Entomology Lecture

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.