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Discovery Magazine 8/1/2007

“I Can’t Believe it’s Not a Butterfly”

by  Race Hochdorf

They eat your clothes, surround your porch lights, and can even do serious damage to farmers’ crops. Moths can be pests. Yet they can also be very useful creatures. As nocturnal animals (which means they’re active at night), moths help pollinate the flowers that bloom at night. Flowers, in turn, provide food for people and wildlife and help to make the Earth look beautiful. Moths also serve an important part of the food chain, providing food for birds and other animals.

There are over 150,000 species of moths. You can find a moth practically anywhere except Polar Regions. Moths eat nectar from the flowers they pollinate, along with other liquids. They suck food up through a tiny, but long, coiled proboscis (pro-BO-sus). A proboscis is a type of coil that comes out of the moth’s head, which functions like an elephant trunk.

The way you can tell the difference between moths and butterflies is by looking at their wings. Butterflies have more colorful wings, but most moths are a bit duller. Moths often rest with their wings open (unlike butterflies). And contrary to popular belief, if you touch the wings of a moth, it won’t die.

God designed the moth to go through four stages of development: (1) Egg; (2) Larva; (3) Pupa; (4) Adult. First, the female moth lays her eggs, usually in summer or fall. A female moth can lay as many as 18,000 eggs in its life! Most moth eggs measure less than one millimeter. A caterpillar then crawls out of the egg, and grows to its full size within a few weeks to a few months, depending on what kind of moth it is.

When the larva grows to its full size, it enters the cocoon, at which time dramatic changes occur. It could take several days to several months for the insect to finish its metamorphosis, depending on the species. When caterpillars hatch, you have…moths!

The next time you see a moth around a light, or on your favorite shirt, remember the amazing transformation process it went through to become what it is. More importantly, praise God for the creation of moths.

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