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Moths, of the order Lepidoptera, are not just the dull brown cousins of butterflies. Estimated to have 160,000 species worldwide, moths come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and are known to be attracted to light bulbs, bananas, and beer.
See the fact file below for more information on the moths or alternatively, you can download our 19-page Moth worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ETYMOLOGY AND HISTORY
- The modern English term “moth” originated from the Old English “moððe”, which has Common Germanic roots. Its origins are most likely associated with the Old English “maða”, meaning “maggot” or from the root of “midge” which was used to refer to larvae until the end of the 16th century.
- Moths came before butterflies, with fossils discovered to be around 190 million years old.
- Both types of Lepidoptera are assumed to have developed along with flowering plants, probably because the majority of the modern species consume these plants, both as adults and larvae.
- Among the earliest species presumed to be a month-ancestor is the Archaeolepsis mane, whose fossils exhibit scaled wings that look like those of the caddisflies in their veins.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS
- Unlike butterflies which establish a monophyletic group, moths, which make up the rest of the Lepidoptera, do not; one of the two groups of moth is not monophyletic: Microlepidoptera and Macrolepidoptera, Heterocera and Rhopalocera, Jugatae and Frenatae, and Monotrysia and Ditrysia.
- Butterflies grow thin antennae with small balls or clubs at the tip. Moth antennae, on the other hand, are usually covered in feathers without any balls on the end. The segments are named by this notion: “club-antennae” (Rhopalocera) or “varied-antennae” (Heterocera).
ATTRACTION TO LIGHT
- Moths seem to circle artificial lights, although the cause for this behavior, known as positive phototaxis, is still unknown. One theory is called celestial or transverse orientation. By keeping a consistent angular connection to a vibrant celestial light, such as the moon, moths can fly in a straight line. Celestial objects are so distant that, even after reaching great distances, the difference in angle between the moth and the light source is insignificant; moreover, the moon will always appear in the upper portion of the visual field, or on the horizon.
- When a moth approaches a much closer light source and uses it to navigate its surroundings, the angle changes after a short distance, aside from appearing below the horizon at times.
- The moth intuitively tries to correct by facing toward the light, forcing airborne moths to fall hard and fast, resulting in a coiled flight path that gets closer and closer to the light source.
- Research suggests light pollution brought about by the use of artificial light sources has either caused an extreme decline in their number in some regions of the world or has intensely disturbed nocturnal pollination.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
- Some moths, especially their caterpillars, act as the leading agricultural pests in most areas of the world. These include corn borers and bollworms. The gypsy moth’s (Lymantria dispar) caterpillar is an invasive species which causes damage to forests in the northeastern part of the United States. In temperate regions, the codling moth does the same, particularly to fruit farms. In tropical and subtropical zones, the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is considered the most severe pest of brassicaceous crops. In sub-Saharan Africa, the African sugarcane borer plagues sugarcane, maize, and sorghum.
- A number of moths in the family Tineidae are generally considered pests because their larvae feed on fabric, such as clothes and blankets made from natural proteinaceous fibers like wool or silk. These species are less likely to feed on mixed materials made of artificial fibers. There are also some rumors that these moths avoid the smell of wood from juniper and cedar, by lavender, or by other natural oils; however, reports presume these are unlikely to prevent infestation. Naphthalene, the chemical component in mothballs, is known to be more effective, but there are some concerns over its side effects on human health.
- Freezing objects infested with moth larvae at a temperature below −8°C (18°F) may get rid of these pests.
- Some moth species are farmed for their economic value. The larva of the domesticated moth Bombyx mori is farmed for the silk with which it builds its cocoon.
- While moths are infamous for eating clothing, most species do not, and some adults do not even consume cloth at all. Some, like the Luna, Polyphemus, Atlas, Promethea, Cecropia, and other large moths lack mouth parts. This can happen because these species live off the food stores from when they were a caterpillar, and only have a short life as an adult. Moreover, a number of adult moths feed on other items, such as nectar.
- Moths are often preyed by nocturnal insectivores, such as bats, some species of owls, and other birds. These insects are also consumed by some species of lizards, amphibians, cats, dogs, rodents, and some bears.
- The atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered the largest moth in the world.
- The white witch moth (Thysania agrippina) has the longest wingspan.
- The Madagascan sunset moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus) is among the most extraordinary and beautiful Lepidoptera.
- The death’s-head hawkmoth (Acherontia spp.) is linked with the supernatural and sinister themes and has been featured in art and movies.
- The grease moth (Aglossa cuprina) is known to consume rendered fat of humans.
- The Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) has been a source of food of some indigenous tribes in southeastern Australia.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the moths across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Moth worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the moths, of the order Lepidoptera, which are not just the dull brown cousins of butterflies. Estimated to have 160,000 species worldwide, moths come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and are known to be attracted to light bulbs, bananas, and beer.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Moth Facts
- Butterfly’s Cousin
- Little-Known Facts
- A Moth’s Life
- Ask a Moth
- Moth Mask
- Can You Tell the Difference?
- Moth Alphabet
- Noteworthy Moths
- Story of the Moth
- How a Moth Survives
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Link will appear as Moth Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 5, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.