Why Moths?

Moths in Folklore

Symbols of Purity, Links to Our Ancestors, Signs of Hope and Renewal or Harbingers of Doom?
White moths such as the White Ermine have a different meaning to cultures around the world
White moths such as the White Ermine have a different meaning to cultures around the world
The symbolism of moths in historic cultures is complex. In many societies moths, especially white moths, are seen as a link to ancestors acting as messengers. They have also been considered by some, such as the ancient Egyptians, to be guides for the soul to help them reach an after life. Some native American cultures see moths as their ancestors come to guide the living.

In China it was seen as good luck for a moth to enter your home and their images appear on lottery tickets. Whilst in Japan they are a symbol of love.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the changes brought about by metamorphosis in moths life has linked them rebirth, renewal and personal growth.

In the Celtic traditions moths again were considered to be able to move between the real and spiritual realms and allow communications between the two. When it came to black or dark coloured moths though their presence was less welcome. These moths were seen an harbingers of disease, war and death. In parts of Ireland a white moth entering the house foretold a death.

In parts of central America it was said that if a moth flew over your head you would go bald.

In more recent culture the role of the Death's-head Hawk-moth in the film, The Silence of the Lambs has added to their mystery as a symbol of death.


On some warm summer nights male Ghost Moths can be seen to perform an elaborate courtship dance, hovering above the vegetation to attract the attention of a female. This behaviour known as lekking is supplemented by pheromones released from the males rear legs. Are these nigh-time dances of the white winged male Ghost Moths the origins of stories of Fairies? Historically in parts of Cornwall, moths were known as “Pisgies” (Pixies?), while in parts of Yorkshire the Ghost Moth was referred to as “the Soul”