Florida Butterfiles~Moths

30 Jan

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Moths are insects that belong to the order Lepidoptera. They are less-colorful cousins of butterflies. There are more than 150.000 species of moths that can be found around the world. Moths inhabit forests, fields, meadows, agricultural fields and human settlements. In most parts of the world, moths are classified as pests because they destroy commercially important types of fruit and crops.
Interesting Moths Facts:
Moths can be small as pinhead or large as the hand of adult man. Their wingspan ranges from 0.11 to 12 inches.
Moths are active during the night and their bodies are usually dark colored (they blend with darkness of the night). Moths have feathery or filament-like antennas on the head. Antennas are equipped with scent receptors that facilitate finding of food and partners. Moths are able to detect females that are 7 miles away thanks to exceptional sense of smell.

Indian Moon Moth / Indian Luna Moth {Actias selen} head-on view showing feather-like antennae. Captive insect.

Moths have long, curled tongue designed for diet based on nectar, fruits and berries.

 

Moths are important pollinators of various plant species. They use moon, stars and geomagnetic field to navigate during the flight. Moths are important source of food for the birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and numerous invertebrates. Even people in some parts of the world consume moths as valuable source of proteins and minerals.

Moths use several strategies to distract predators. Some secrete repelling fluids like this Leopard moth below. It’s larvae is also equipped with spines for protection.
Moths produce from 40 to 1.000 eggs in a lifetime. Eggs hatch after few days or couple of months (eggs of some species remain dormant during the winter and hatch at the beginning of the spring). Females reproduce only once in a lifetime, while males can mate a couple of times.
Larva (caterpillar) lives from few weeks to couple of months. It usually eats plant material, wool, silk or even other insects. Fully grown larva encapsulates itself in the cocoon and transforms into adult moth. They are usually found in dirt or plant debris in the ground.
Adult moths live from 1 to 4 weeks. Males have longer lifespan than females.
The Sphingidae are a family of moths (Lepidoptera), commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms; it includes about 1,450 species. These moth species are found in every region. They are moderate to large in size and are distinguished among moths for their rapid, sustained flying ability. Their narrow wings and streamlined abdomens are adaptations for rapid flight.
Some hawk moths, such as the hummingbird hawk-moth or the white-lined sphinx, hover in midair while they feed on nectar from flowers, so are sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds. The hummingbird moths are among the fastest flying insects on earth. These moths can fly at over 12 miles per hour.
A hummingbird moth! Yes, you read that right―a moth that resembles a hummingbird to the minutest detail, yet does not even fall into the same species.
❖ Like hummingbirds, these moths can sustain flight for as long as they need to feed and can move sideways and backwards.
❖ It is also interesting to note that the hovering of some like this Sphinx Moth cause a humming sound like a hummingbird.

Some hummingbird moth larvae are large with stout bodies, and called tomato worms or horn worms. . They have five pairs of prolegs and most species have a “horn” at the posterior end. They are seldom welcomed, but adult moths are very beneficial.

 

Some caterpillars fall prey to the braconid wasp that lay their eggs on the moth larvae and feeds the wasp hatchlings with it’s life.

 

Moths primarily hide during the day and emerge at dusk or during the early morning hours. This is when I see them in the garden. Luna, Atlas and Prometheus are species of moth that do not have a mouth.

They have short lifespans and their only purpose is to reproduce and lay eggs. Moths are important pollinators of various plant species. Below is a surprising moth. The polka dot wasp moth.

 

The species is also called the Oleander Moth after the Oleander plant, from which its young feed. Like most wasp moths, these moths are day fliers. It looks like a very dangerous wasp, but in fact is a harmless moth.

 

The caterpillars are orange or dark orange with long black hairs. The caterpillars look dangerous too, but the setae do not inflict any harm.

Next week we’ll return to butterflies. We will start with a delightful species of little butterflies called Hair Streaks.

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

4 Responses to “Florida Butterfiles~Moths”

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  3. Onisha Ellis January 30, 2018 at 7:59 pm #

    I had no idea there was such a variety of moths!

    Like

  4. divoran09 January 30, 2018 at 11:04 am #

    These are always fascinating and so beautiful with all the pictures. Moths always amaze me, somehow.

    Like

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