Why Moths?

Moths - The Poor Relation

Are butterflies really more beautiful than moths?
Male Emperor Moth
As humans we feel the need to create a sense of order, not least when comes to the natural world around us. Naturalists identify species and then group them together with their closest relatives, so we can better understand where they fit into the bigger picture. Within the insect world we have assigned a large group species, those with flattened hairs that form scales, on their wings and bodies; as well as having a proboscis, under the grouping Lepidoptera. More commonly we refer to these insects as the butterflies and moths, and world wide there are some 180,000 known species of Lepidoptera, making up some 10% of all living organisms. Moths make up some 160,000 of these species.

There is evidence of moth scales dating back 200 million years. This means the ancestors of today moths flew at the same time as the Triassic dinosaurs. It is thought that todays tiny Micropetrix moths are similar to the moths that existed back then.

1.003 Micropterix aureatella - Yellow-barred Pollen Moth

Micropterix aureatella - a descendent similar to the earliest moths?

The separation of butterflies and moths is another human construct, some families of lepidoptera with particular characteristics are moths and the others are butterflies. Unfortunately based on this separation, public perception of these insects often differs.

Butterflies are often seen as creatures of beauty and elegance. Their cousins the moths on the other hand have a much less glamorous image. Whilst in reality moths and butterflies are very similar, how they have been viewed by humans throughout history still shapes perceptions today.

A 2019 survey in the UK found that almost 75% of the public had a negative opinion towards moths. 17% considered that moths were ugly and 12% found them scary. A 2021 survey found that 3% of those asked considered moths to be their most disliked “creepy-crawly”.

In other parts of the world though the moth is seen more positively, in Persian culture the moth represents humanity’s search for divine love, so perhaps there is hope.

Still moths have a lot to do if their reputation is ever to match their more popular cousins. Perhaps by debunking some of the myths and acknowledging the important role that moths play in the world around us they can at least be looked upon a little more favourably.
#CanaryShoulderedThorn0918 8

A Beautiful Canary Shouldered Thorn Hanging Around in North Antrim