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Nature Life: Moths And Nature

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Moths are a group of insects that includes all members of the order Lepidoptera that are not butterflies. Most species of moth are nocturnal, although there are also crepuscular and diurnal species.

Moths, like butterflies, bees and other more popularly recognized pollinating insects, serve an essential role as pollinators for many flowering plants, including species that bees do not visit.

Moths frequently appear to circle artificial lights, although the reason for this behavior (positive phototaxis) is currently unknown. One hypothesis is called celestial or transverse orientation. By maintaining a constant angular relationship to a bright celestial light, such as the moon, they can fly in a straight line.

Female moths have eggs stored in their bodies. Shorty after the male’s sperm fertilizes these eggs, she will lay them. Some species, like the cecropia, can lay more than 100 eggs at one time. In most cases, the female takes care to deposit them near a food source for her young, such as a leaf.

The female hangs from the foliage, emits a scent and mates with one of the males that arrive. The male hangs from foliage, the female flies to him and they mate.

Most adult moths live for short periods, from a few days to a few weeks depending on the species, ranging between 42 to 56 days.

They do not have mouths or digestive systems!

During the stage of transformation from a caterpillar to a moth, their mouthparts reduce to tiny and useless proportion, and as a result, they cannot eat as adults. The fact that moths lack mouths means that they live for a very short amount of time. Their sole purpose is to mate and lay eggs before they die.

Nocturnal moths fly from flower to flower to feed on nectar during the night much as their diurnal relatives do during the day.

Some researchers say it is likely that many plants thought to be dependent on bees for pollination also rely on moths, which have historically been less observed because they pollinate mainly at night.

Called “Urukurubụba” in Igbo, “Labalaba” in Yoruba and “ˈbədərˌflī” in Hausa, moths main predator is bat.

In some traditions, white moths represent ancestors; black moths symbolize mortality, divinity, and universal secrets; and brown moths symbolize the need for life purification and the slow, unseen destruction of things; they also indicate that you should be careful about whom you believe.

In Singapore, there is a popular belief that that moths are the spirits of the dead who have come back to visit their loved ones.


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