Moths: The Butterflies of the Night

By Jadyn Miller

Butterflies. They are elegant, flying gracefully from flower to flower throughout the spring.

But what of their close relatives, the moths? They are often called bland, pests, and annoying. Despite popular belief, though, moths can actually be helpful, and just as beautiful as butterflies, as well as much, much more.

One thing that must be mentioned is the difference between moths and butterflies. The biggest difference is in their antennae. Butterflies have antennae that curve, with a knobby end. Moths, on the other hand, have straight antennae with a feathery look to them. Male moths use this to “smell” female pheromones, traveling miles to find a mate.

There are many moths that can be harmful pests, killing crops, but there are also many helpful moths. Some species help to pollinate, such as yucca moths, which are the only pollinator of the yucca plant. Another useful moth is the silk moth, also known as the Bombyx Mori. It is better known for earlier in its life. The silk moth is where we get silk from.

Moths are not only useful. They are also interesting creatures that are all their own.
Moths are known for being nocturnal, although there are many species that are more active during the day. They are not as widely recognized as butterflies, though. This is because they are commonly mistaken to be butterflies.

Some moths, like butterflies, are known to migrate. They can travel hundreds of miles each year to get to a place with a climate they can handle. Like butterflies, not all of them migrate, and some go farther than others. One notable species that does this is the Bogong Moth, which goes to and from the Australian Alps in their biennial migration.

Moths range in size from as small as a few millimeters, to as large as a dinner plate. The largest moth is called the white witch moth, which can grow to be the size of a dinner plate. The smallest is called the Stigmella Maya, with a fore wing that grows to be only 1.5 mm.

One interesting thing is that some moths are born without mouths. This is because they only live long enough to reproduce, so they come out of the cocoon with enough to sustain themselves for that purpose. With an average lifespan of one to four weeks, they don’t need much. One example of this is the Luna Moth.

Other types of moths have their own unique attributes. The Tiger Moth, for example, makes a sonar noise to throw off the bats that are known for hunting them.

Wasp moths, along with other species, imitate other bugs as a way to protect themselves. By looking like other bugs, they can avoid many of their major predators.

Some moths have colorful hind wings that they cover, then use to startle predators, giving them a chance to getaway. One such species is the Polyphemus Moth, which has large, eye-like circles on their hind wings.

Another more popular example of this is the Owl Moth, which has circles that look like an owl’s eyes on the back of its wings.

In the end, some may not like moths, but that does not negate the fact that moths are beautiful creatures that deserve just as much credit as butterflies. Both have benefits and can be harmful, making them equal in most circumstances.