A list of my favorite images of moths.
Moths comprise a group of insects related to butterflies, belonging to the order Lepidoptera.
Most lepidopterans are moths and there are thought to be approximately 160,000 species of moth, many of which are yet to be described.
Most species of moth are nocturnal but there are also crepuscular and diurnal species.
While the butterflies form a monophyletic group, the moths, comprising the rest of the Lepidoptera, do not. Many attempts have been made to group the superfamilies of the Lepidoptera into natural groups, most of which fail because one of the two groups is not monophyletic: Microlepidoptera and Macrolepidoptera, Heterocera and Rhopalocera, Jugatae and Frenatae, Monotrysia and Ditrysia.
Although the rules for distinguishing moths from butterflies are not hard and fast, one very good guiding principle is that butterflies have thin antennae and (with one exception) have small balls or clubs at the end of their antennae. Moth antennae can be quite varied in appearance, but in particular lack the club end. The divisions are named by this principle: "club-antennae" (Rhopalocera) or "varied-antennae" (Heterocera).
Moth larvae, or caterpillars, make cocoons from which they emerge as fully grown moths with wings. Some moth caterpillars dig holes in the ground, where they live until they are ready to turn into adult moths.
Moths evolved long before butterflies, fossils having been found that may be 190 million years old. One of the earliest species thought to be a moth-ancestor is archaeolepis mane, whose fossil fragments show scaled wings similar to caddisflies in their veining.
Atlas moth - the largest moth in the world
White witch moth - the Lepidopteran with the longest wingspan
Madagascan sunset moth - considered to be one of the most impressive and beautiful Lepidoptera
Death's-head hawkmoth - is associated with the supernatural and evil and has been featured in art and movies
Peppered moth - the subject of a well-known study in natural selection
Grease moth - known to have fed on the rendered fat of humans
Emperor gum moth
Bogong moth - known to have been a food source for southeastern indigenous Australians
Ornate moth - the subject of numerous behavioral studies regarding sexual selection
Moths of economic significance:
Gypsy moth - a pest of hardwood trees in North America
Corn earworm or cotton bollworm - a major agricultural pest
Indianmeal moth - a major pest of grain and flour
Codling moth - a pest mostly of apple, pear and walnut trees
Light brown apple moth - a highly polyphagous pest
Silkworm - for its silk
Wax moths - pests of bee hives
Duponchelia fovealis - a new invasive pest of vegetables and ornamental plants in the United States
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