Yes, there are folks who spend their nights behind the bright lights watching for moths. We had no idea that there were so many or varied moths in our own backyard. We just thought they were all dull brown things that flew around the porch lights on summer nights. We found that is far from the truth. We started to look and here’s what we learned …
- Worldwide, there are estimated to be more than 160,000 different species of months and about 17,500 of butterflies – yes, that’s about nine times the number of moth species for each butterfly. We have photographed and identified over 500 different species of moths at So 8ths.
- Moths and butterflies are the only group of insects that have scales on their wings and both can roll up their feeding tube. Moth antennae are usually feathery whereas butterflies usually have club tipped ends.
- Moths are major pollinators. Studies have found that pollinating moths visit more plant species at night than bees do during the day.
- If there is a plant, there is probably a moth that feeds upon it, and not just during the summer, but many are active year-round in the southern states.
- The wide variety and abundance of months and their caterpillars makes them a prime food source for bats and birds. Think of them as bird baby food with a nest of young songbirds needing over 6,000 caterpillars before they leave the nest.
- It is estimated that only about 70% of moths are attracted to lights and not all moths are nocturnal which makes mothing that much more interesting.
- While folks think of moths and the need for moth balls – of the ~11,000 moths that are native to the United States, only two species of moths feed on fabric. So, it’s probably pretty safe to put your balls back in the box.
- Perhaps most overlooked, is the moth’s ecological benefit as an important environmental indicator. Because moths are widely distributed and found in all manner of habitats, fluctuations in moth populations serve as useful early warning signals that something is wrong in the environment