Moth Wings: What Are They Made Of And Why Shouldn't You Touch Them? | Kidadl


Moth Wings: What Are They Made Of And Why Shouldn't You Touch Them?

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Moths and butterflies are closely related to each other.

Moths, just like butterflies, belong to the class of insects. They are found in large numbers all over the world.

Both butterflies and moths are part of the order called Lepidoptera. A moth also belongs to the phylum Arthropoda. In the field of science, many scientists have studied the natural evolution of these insects and found how moths have evolved to adapt to the changing environment around them and survive in the world, which is always posing a danger in one way or another. There are possibly more than 160,000 species of moths living worldwide. Each individual species has distinctive features that distinguish them from the others. While most moth species are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night, some of them are also diurnal and crepuscular. On the other hand, most butterfly species are active in the daytime. However, there are still some species that are crepuscular which means they are active during dusk or twilight.

These creatures have a rich diversity and a very short lifespan. Some of these creatures have also become extinct, while others are either vulnerable or on the verge of extinction. Efforts are being made to conserve them and develop a better environment for them to exist in.

What are moth wings made of?

Butterflies and moths are both species that evolve from caterpillars.

A moth and a butterfly do not have wings right from the time they are born. Instead, they are acquired when they transform from being a caterpillar or worm to a butterfly or a moth.

The wings are a part of the body of moths, just like the head, antennae, and legs. The wings of both butterflies and moths are made of finely layered chitin. Chitin is a hardened protein that also covers the outside of their bodies. That is why the wing of a moth or a butterfly is called a chitinous wing. Chitin is an important component of the exoskeletons of arthropods like butterflies and moths.

Although there are many similarities between butterflies and moths, researchers have also found a few differences between the two. One of these differences is that while a butterfly sits with its wings closed in a vertical position, a moth has them held in a tent shape horizontally to protect its abdomen. Scientists have found fossils that reveal that moths might have existed even before butterflies did.

Why do moth wings have eyes on them?

The term 'Lepidoptera' means 'scale wing.'

Butterflies and moths are known in the world for the beautiful natural design and colors of their wings. Usually, people might think that this natural phenomenon is just for the sake of beauty. However, that is not the true reason behind their existence.

Both butterflies and moths have four wings. Each wing of these insects is covered with scales. These tiny scales are present in their thousands and are actually minute hairs. The reason behind the diverse natural color range of the wings of a moth or a butterfly is these scales. The scales serve a purpose too. Science has found that the patterns on the wings of moths have evolved to protect them from predators. The scales create patterns as well as add vibrant colors. One such pattern involves eyespots appearing on each wing of a moth and a butterfly. Different species use these eyespots differently.

There are two significant theories regarding the function of these eyespots as defenses against the many predators of these species of insects. The first theory suggests that the eyespots evolved as an intimidation technique. When you see the pattern at a close range, you can see that the eyespots actually appear like the eyes of a real predator. This can make an approaching predator think that it might be facing another and possibly larger predator instead of easy prey, deterring the predator from attacking.

The second theory explores how these eyespots prove to be distracting rather than just intimidating. The scales create a white spot in the middle of the design, which reflects light, making it seem all the more real. When a predator tries to attack a moth, it might be distracted and focused on the eyespot, believing it to be the actual eyes of the insect. Since these spots are generally placed near the edge of the wings, the predator would be attacking parts of the body that are not as vital.

Emperor Moth on leaf.

What does it mean when a moth flaps its wings slowly?

Now that we have explored the aspects of what the wings of moths and butterflies are made of, what purposes do they serve?

The wings of both butterflies and moths are used for flying. Flying is the main method of transportation for moths and butterflies. However, in addition to flying, they also perform many different tasks. One of these involves providing warmth to moths and butterflies.

Due to their nocturnal nature, moths do not receive sunlight. Moths might beat or flap their wings slowly or flutter them in order to produce some warmth. It is the same for some butterfly species too. The ones who are active at twilight need to generate warmth like this as the temperature tends to drop during the night.

Why shouldn't you touch moths wings?

You might have heard that you should not touch moths or butterflies. But have you wondered why it is not allowed?

First of all, it is quite hard to actually get close to a moth or a butterfly. They can easily sense our approach and fly away. Usually, the only time we can go near them or touch them is when they are injured in some way or dead. The reason behind not touching the wing of a moth or a butterfly is that it is quite delicate. Touching it might accidentally damage it and thereby ruin it. As moths already have a very short lifespan, you should not risk hurting them by touching their wings that help to protect them against predators.

<p>Shafaque has a Bachelor's degree in English language and Literature from Sophia Girls' College with a Master's degree in Library and Information Sciences from Shreemati Nasthibai Damodar Thackersey Women's College. She has a strong command of written and verbal English, along with proficiency in Hindi, French, Urdu, and Korean. With extensive knowledge of English literature and creative writing, Shafaque has completed numerous creative writing courses online and has previously worked as a content writer at Scripto.</p>

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