If you ask anyone to name the main attribute of a moth, they will probably say that they are attracted to light. Although not a proven theory, it is thought that moths use the moon as a navigational aid when flying: their attraction to light is simply a result of them trying to keep the moon, or any light that they think is the moon, in their sights so that they can fly straight!
Moths do have predators. It may come as a surprise that anything would be interested in eating a moth, but they are quite popular with other insects, such as many types of spider, and small mammals such as birds and rodents. Even some humans eat them when they are in the caterpillar stage.
Moths are harmless to humans, although some bright colored species can carry poison. Their main nuisance value is to eat away at crops and flowers, and eat our clothes. They are not so keen on clothes that contain artificial elements such as nylon, and so this is less of a problem than it used to be. For some of us they can also be quite scary, especially the large black moths! Although food establishments are obligatory to keep germ-carrying flies and wasps away from food, moths can also find their way, albeit by accident, in food production areas. As such, in order to prevent you having to eat a pizza containing a moth, they are controlled by using fly killers, such as Insect-o-Cutor fly killers from Arkay Hygiene.
There are many species of moth. Most are dark and some are light. They are actually of the same species group as butterflies. In fact, moths are the night-time version of butterflies. They start off as eggs that are hatched in various places, according to the species. Typically eggs are laid under the
leaves of plants, especially trees. The caterpillar that ever emerges will already be equipped with the ability to chew and consume fibrous material such as leaves and even the egg shell from which it emerges. It is at this stage that moth (and butterfly) caterpillars can do so much damage to crops and garden plants. They have a voracious appetite and will go on eating until they are fully grown after having outgrown their skin several times, this being known as molting. Each instar – this is the period between each molt – results in a change of color or other physical attribute.
Once the caterpillar is fully grown it will settle down to its pupation stage. It is now payback time as some species of moth provide us with valuable silk, spun in order to protect the cocoon. At this stage, moth and butterfly cocoons are made to look as inconspicuous and unappetizing as possible as their
lack of movement makes them vulnerable. Some species will simply bury into the ground at the pupation stage. The cocoon will stay dormant until the weather and other conditions are favorable for the next stage to resignation.
The beginning of the adult stage is one of natures wonders. Once the conditions are right, the cocoon gradually changes color and shape (depending on the species) and out comes a fully grown moth. Although some may fly almost straight away, most species will usually find a nearby spot where they can hang upside down in order to allow fluids to flow into their wings and limbs. After a few hours, they will fly away on their quest to find a mate – and start the whole process off again.