Here are 10 fascinating facts about moths you might not know:
1) There are over 2400 species of moth in the UK alone.
Moths outnumber the amount of butterfly species in the UK by over 40 to one.There are over 2400 species of moth in the UK, compared to 59 butterfly species. Moths species range in size between the size of a pencil tip to as big as bat.
2) Some moths only fly during the day.
The UK boasts almost three times as many day flying moths as there are butterfly species, many of which are as brightly coloured and as beautiful as butterflies. There are about 30 larger (macro) moths that normally fly in the day. You might also see some moths that usually come out at night though if they have been disturbed in their resting places. Day flying moths can range in colour size and shape, from the Six-spot Burnet, to the Silver Y, the Hummingbird Hawksmoth and the Purple-bordered Gold.
3) Many moths don't eat
Some types of adult moths eat nectar from flowers, but most don't eat anything at all. In fact there is even a species of moth called the Luna Moths that has no mouth at all. Their only purpose is to find a mate and reproduce.
4) Moths are important pollinators.
Although many moths don't feed at all, those who do feed on nectar are extremely important pollinators. Moths pick up pollen on their bodies as they are feeding on the nectar of a flower, and carry it on to the next. There are a number of wild flowers in the UK that are moth pollinated. They have evolved to specifically provide nectar for moths, which will in turn cross pollinate their flowers.
As many moths only come out at night, plants have adapted special features to make themselves easier to find. Most moth pollinated plants have pale or white flowers, and produce a strong fragrance which usually becomes stronger in the evening. Some have also adapted long tube like flowers to suit the moths’ long tongues, and to exclude other insects. Some moth pollinated plants include Wild Honeysuckle, Campions and Sweet Williams.
5) Moths are an important food source for lots of different animals.
Because moths are so great in abundance and in the number of types there are in the UK, they area really important part of the food chain. Caterpillars and adult moths are food for many different animals, including other insects, spiders, frogs, toads, lizards, bats, shrews, and birds of course! Adult night flying moths make up a large part of many bats diets, and many garden birds rely heavily on caterpillars for food for their chicks.
6) Moths are an important food source for many societies around the world.
A survey by the UN in 2004 found that in some African countries, over 90 per cent of the population eat moth and butterfly caterpillars. In fact, they contain many vital minerals and are full of protein and healthy fats.
7) Moths are amazing mimics
They are, without doubt, extraordinary mimics. To avoid becoming something's else's dinner, some moths are known to impersonate anything that might be unpalatable to predators, from spiders, wasps, bees, rodents, toads, foxes, even other poisonous moth species . The photo below shows the Atlas Moth impersonating a Cobra!
8) Moths can become invisible.
Bats are a major predator of the moth. They use echolocation to see in the dark, so when a moth crosses their path, the sound waves they put out bounce back, telling the bat exactly where the moth is. In response to this, Tiger moths have developed an ultra sonic ’clicking sound’ which jams the bats sonar, making the moth invisible!
9) A male moth can smell a female more than 7 miles away.
Moths have no noses, but they still have an amazing sense of smell. They use their antennae instead of nostrils to smell odour molecules. The females release hormone that the males can detect. The male silkworm moths can detect a single pheromone molecule released by the female up to 7 miles away.
10) Some moths migrate hundreds of miles
The spectacular Humming-bird Hawk-moth is just one of the UKs migrant species of moth, flying across land and sea to get here all the way from the Mediterranean or sometimes even North Africa!
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