Most of us probably have negative connotations about moths. We know that moths can cause problems in agriculture and can infest clothes left unattended in a closet. Moth balls have been in our history for a very long time. But it isn’t adult moths that eat holes in your clothing. It’s their larvae. In reality, moths are incredibly beautiful creatures, and perhaps you have not seen the most beautiful specimens because they are nocturnal.
One moth species known as Antheraea polyphemus can have a six-inch wingspan. The name comes from Homer’s epic “The Odyssey,” in which a giant called Polyphemus ate people. The giant polyphemus moth does not eat people, and neither does any other moth species. There are over 160,000 species of moths, and many of them produce larvae that eat crops that humans grow. However, adult moths have no mouths because they don’t eat anything in their adult stage.
Moths are incredibly beautiful creatures, and like virtually all living things, they are essential for humans in various ways. The domesticated silkworm in America is the larva of the moth Bombyx mori, and there are different species in different countries. Moths pollinate plants that open at night. For example, in the Himalayan ecosystem, they are primary pollinators essential to plant survival.
Some moths dig into the ground, and their larvae support underground ecosystems. The Mopane worm is a moth larva harvested as an important food source in regions of Africa. In the Congo, people eat moth larvae from thirty different species.
There are far more moth species than butterfly species – 160,000 compared to 17,500. As is true of just about everything in the natural world, we must learn how to manage and protect this resource. Mass pesticide spraying is not a positive way to manage this valuable resource God has given us.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: The Spokesman-Review for 8/4/22.