Moth larvae are called caterpillars. The pupal case is called a cocoon (vs. chrysalis in butterflies). There are approximately 13,000 described species in about 70 families in North America and about 165,000 species worldwide. Adults have feathery, thickened, or threadlike antennae (not knobbed or hooked, as in butterflies and skippers), and most species are active at night. At rest, many species hold their wings out horizontally, or roof-like over or hugged around the abdomen.
Caterpillars have a hardened head capsule and a fleshy body composed of a thorax bearing three pairs of legs, and an elongated cylindrical abdomen bearing from zero to five pairs of prolegs (short fleshy ventral projections used for clinging or walking). The body may be either uniformly colored or patterned with stripes, bands, or spots; the surface may be smooth, or may be sparsely or densely covered with short or long hairs, tufts of hair, spines, knobs, or other features.
Several moths in the family Tineidae
are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabric such as clothes and blankets made from natural proteinaceous fibers such as wool or silk. They are less likely to eat mixed materials containing artificial fibers. There are some reports that they can be repelled by the scent of wood from juniper and cedar, by lavender, or by other natural oils. However, many consider this unlikely to prevent infestation. Naphthalene (the chemical used in mothballs) is considered more effective, but there are concerns over its effects on human health. Moth larvae may be killed by freezing the items which they infest for several days at a temperature below 18°F (-7.7°C).  Moths are sturdy and usually are more resistant to pesticides than are mosquitos and flies.
Some moths are farmed. The most notable of these is the silkworm, the larva of the domesticated moth Bombyx mori. It is farmed for the silk with which it builds its cocoon. The silk industry produces over 130 million kilograms of raw silk, worth about 250 million U.S. dollars, each year. Not all silk is produced by Bombyx mori. There are several species of Saturniidae that are also farmed for their silk, such as the Ailanthus moth (Samia cynthia group of species), the Chinese Oak Silkmoth (Antheraea pernyi), the Assam Silkmoth (Antheraea assamensis) and the Japanese Silk Moth (Antheraea yamamai).
The gypsy moth
is one of North America's most devastating forest pests. The species originally evolved in Europe and Asia and has existed there for thousands of years. In either 1868 or 1869, the gypsy moth was accidentally introduced near Boston, MA by E. Leopold Trouvelot. About 10 years after this introduction, the first outbreaks began in Trouvelot's neighborhood and in 1890 the State and Federal Government began their attempts to eradicate the gypsy moth.
These attempts ultimately failed and since that time, the range of gypsy moth has continued to spread. Every year, isolated populations are discovered beyond the contiguous range of the gypsy moth but these populations are eradicated or they disappear without intervention. It is inevitable that gypsy moth will continue to expand its range in the future.
The gypsy moth is known to feed on the foliage of hundreds of species of plants in North America but its most common hosts are oaks and aspen. Gypsy moth hosts are located through most of the coterminous US but the highest concentrations of host trees are in the southern Appalachian Mtns., the Ozark Mtns., and in the northern Lake States. - U.S. Forest Service, Gypsy Moth in North America
|Order Lepidoptera: Moths. Unlike the butterflies, moths are usually nocturnal. Many moths and their caterpillars are major agricultural pests in large parts of the world. Moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabrics, clothes and blankets made from natural fibers such as wool or silk. Moths in the genus Farinalis feed on stored grain, flour, corn meal and other milled grain products. |
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