Why Moths?

Myths About Moths Part 1

Moths are small, brown and boring - Right?
Small Elephant Hawk-moth Deilephila porcellus
Small Elephant Hawk-moth Deilephila porcellus
When I speak about moths, there are a number of common themes which come up as to why moths do not attract the positive attention that butterflies and bees do. More often than not these opinions are as a result of misconceptions and misinformation, often passed from one generation to the next.

1. Moths will eat my clothes. Almost 1500 species of moths have been recorded in Ireland. Out of these only couple of species are known to regularly feed on animal derived fabrics and none feed on synthetics or cotton. It is important to note it is larvae that feeds on the textile, not the adult moth. None of these species are frequently recorded in Ireland. The “Clothes Moths” normally prefer dirty fabrics, in dark and undisturbed places.

2. Moths attack and they bite. Moths may occasionally fly into you accidentally, but they have no interest in attacking. Some of our moths have no mouth parts at all, doing all their feeding at the larvae stage of life. Others have very basic moth parts with no ability to bite or chew. Instead they have a proboscis designed for obtaining nectar from flowers, just like our butterflies.
Humming-bird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)
Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding on Bramble flowers using it's proboscis.

Some caterpillars, especially hairy ones, can release chemicals if handled, which can cause an allergic reaction. This a defencive mechanism against predation, so if you pick them up, you are attacking them, they are not attacking you!

Puss Moth Caterpillar

When threatened the stunning larvae of the Puss Moth has the ability to squirt formic acid from it's thorax