Mole is not only all known small and ordinary butterflies, caterpillars of which spoil clothing and groceries in the kitchen. Generally speaking, moths are a vast group of insects, remarkable for their biology and often appearance.
For example, further in the photo shows a leopard moth at a large magnification:
Among the moths there are both very large and bright, and small and utterly unattractive butterflies. Moreover, moths live on all continents and have managed to adapt to completely different conditions of existence.
Their caterpillars feed on wool and bark, horns and wax, leaves and even ant eggs - it is difficult to find an object of living nature that is not associated with a moth. But at the same time, any stunningly bright tropical moth, and an inconspicuous moth, have the features of a structure that unite them into one taxonomic group and make them look alike.
It is interesting
In English, there is no complete analog of the Russian word "mole". The word "moth" in English-speaking countries means both moths and large moths, up to the scoop and silkworms.
Mole as it is
Moles are called all representatives of the group of micro-Lepidoptera - butterflies, which are relatively small in size and mostly lead a nocturnal and twilight way of life.
Another distinctive feature of moths is the structure of their jaws - the mouthpiece of moths is usually a gnawing type, allowing butterflies to moth eat very rough food (so do not even wonder why moths do not have a proboscis, like many butterflies). Some moths in the adult state are not able to eat and live at all, spending energy reserves accumulated at the stage of the caterpillar.
Their jaws can be reduced to a certain extent.
On the photo below is a moth and its caterpillar. The latter is known for the fact that it can gouge holes even in semisynthetic tissues.
Jaws of a gnawing type give researchers scientists an opportunity to believe that the moth is an insect more primitive than other butterflies, in which the mechanisms of feeding nectar flowers through the proboscis developed. Perhaps it was the ancient moths who were the progenitors of all other butterflies. Nevertheless, it is the powerful jaws, capable of cracking even the walls of fruit seeds and seeds, have led to the fact that the moth is an insect that is less capricious to food sources than other butterflies.
On a note
A group of moles unites a huge number of species of butterflies. According to approximate estimates of scientists, more than 73,000 species of Lepidoptera may be called moles, some of which are even invisible to the naked eye.
It is also characteristic of moths that in many species caterpillars lead a secretive way of life and are very unobtrusive. In this case, it is the caterpillars that are the most active pests of plants, and in the human dwelling - tissues and food reserves.
In the pictures below - the larva of the wax moth in the bee hive:
What do moths look like: the whole variety of colors and shapes
Butterflies and caterpillars of different types of moths look different.
Moles that are domestic pests are butterflies of small size with wings about 5-7 mm long, which they fold with a characteristic triangle (see photo). The coloration of most house moths is nondescript, only some species have at least some catchy patterns on their wings.
For example, a photograph of a moth:
In the picture below - barn fire:
And on the following photo - ermine bird cherry moth, widely known in almost all European countries:
Virtually all moles are characterized by very narrow folded wings. This distinguishes them well from other butterflies with rounded and quite noticeable wings. At the same time, not all moths, sitting on a solid surface, keep their wings the way a food or moth does.
For example, ermine moths are characterized by the folding of the wings with a pyramid with a small protrusion in the rear part. On the photo - Butterfly moth Argyresthia brockeella:
There is a whole group of moths-pestrians, which fold their wings into narrow tubes and keep them perpendicular to the abdomen. At first glance it is difficult to say that this insect is a moth.
In the photo - Caloptilia hemidactylella mole:
And, finally, it is among the moths that the largest in the order of butterflies is the number of species demonstrating the wonders of disguise. Given their small size and low flying qualities, the ability to be invisible to predators is vital for these insects.
For example, in the photo below, a butterfly of spray-tailed moths is shown. With folded wings, this mole looks like a rusty fungus on the leaf, very common in its habitats:
And on the next picture - a snow-drifter (Acleris logiana) on a birch bark, which she very successfully copies:
But there are among the moles and types, which do not need camouflage. For example, a wax moth is a parasite of bee hives. Adult butterflies and caterpillars excrete a special substance, according to which the bees identify them as their own and, thanks to this, do not touch. And the caterpillars themselves at that time feed on garbage in the hives, often not disdaining honey and even bee brood.
Lifestyle and nutrition: are all moths harmful?
Most moles lead a secretive or nocturnal life. In some species, the larvae are very inactive and develop in the same place where they hatched from the egg, only in the absence of food, moving for short distances.
And in some species, even adults are not particularly inclined to travel. For example, a female of the same moth can not fly, but only crawls on clothes and the inner surface of cabinets:
In nature, many moles due to their gnawing abilities are important links in various biocenoses. Calling them pests, the language does not turn - it is thanks to them that a large amount of organic material is processed.
For example, many moths are keratophagous, that is, they feed on horny formations of various animals. So, it is the moth that processes a large number of feathers, hair and horns of wild and domestic animals. The life of these "utilizers" of keratin is not very noticeable - they swarm mainly in nests and burrows of wild animals - but their work is very important for ecosystems as a whole.
It is interesting
There are moths that gnaw horns of wild mammals even on the hosts themselves. For example, caterpillars moth Ceratophaga vastella gnaw keratin in the horns of African antelopes and buffaloes, and larvae of the related species Ceratophaga vicinella feed on the shells of dead tortoises.
A huge number of species of moths are typical phytophagous: their caterpillars feed on various plants. For example, such are all the ermines and miners moths. And some of their species are so small that their caterpillars live inside the leaves, leading to the appearance of blisters on each leaf - min.
Adult butterflies can eat on flowers, gnawing petals or stamens, and can all "adulthood" fast. Such, for example, is extremely dangerous for parks chestnut moth . The photo below shows her adult and larva:
But there are moths that feed on weeds and are capable of restraining their reproduction. And some of them feed even on such plants that are inadequate for other insects, like wormwood (although, it would seem, wormwood should scare away moth and other insects).
How does the moth multiply
All moths are very strongly attached to those substrates on which their caterpillars feed. Females almost immediately after emergence from the pupa mate with males and begin to lay eggs, usually directly on that plant or thing that will later be eaten by the larvae.
One female does only one egg laying (about 5-6 hours after mating). After another 5-6 days, she dies.
Moths multiply very quickly. For example, a cabbage moth in warm regions of our country gives up to 6 generations during the spring-summer season. But a moth for a year gives only one generation - after all, its food is much less nutritious, and caterpillars on such a product can not develop very quickly.
The larvae of different moths vary greatly in appearance. Most of them are white or light yellow caterpillars with a pink or brown head and a small amount of transparent hairs. Such, for example, is the larva of the ward moth presented below in the photo:
And on the following photo - caterpillar moth Pandemis corylana:
Mole as a pest
Typical pests of agriculture and household are only a few types of moles. They belong to several different genera and families - real moths, fires, ermines, moths, pestles and some others.
- A fur coat is a thunderstorm of all storage pits. In the photo below - a female moth and a fur coat, spoiled by larvae.
- The moth is close to a fur coat. He prefers to eat on woolen products.
- Potato moth is a butterfly that can lead to serious crop losses.
- Cabbage moth is a relative of potato and thunderstorm of cruciferous plants.
- Ambarnaya fire - it is often called a food moth. Its larvae develop in cereals and groceries.
- A chestnut miner moth is the cause of the death of a huge number of chestnuts all over Europe.
In total, there are dozens of such moth-pests. It is also possible to include here also the wax moth, which greatly harms bee hives.
It is interesting
Many moths are known for the fact that they quickly develop resistance to various insecticides. For example, a cabbage moth is an insect, the first to develop resistance to Entobacterin, which for a certain time was a universal means of fighting insect pests.
Thanks to the long history of man's relationship with the moth, a large number of means of effective destruction of these pests in houses, in vegetable gardens and in industrial enterprises are known today. Almost all moths perish from insecticides of the neuro-paralytic action, many "domestic" species are afraid of the smell of lavender and eucalyptus.
The choice of means for the fight against moths today is quite large: read more about preparations and methods for effective control of moths in the corresponding section of our website "How to get rid of moths".