What are moths?

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Moths, like butterflies belong to a group of insects called the Lepidoptera (meaning scaly wings). Like other insects they have a body divided into three sections—head, thorax, and abdomen.   On their heads moths have a pair of compound eyes and a pair of antennae. The antennae of many male moths are often feathery. They have six legs, and two pairs of wings attached to their thorax.

There are over 2,500 moths in the UK; over 800 belong to the so-are called macro moths because they are generally larger, the other smaller moths are called micro moths.

Generally moths fly at night and are not as brightly coloured as butterflies but there are notable exceptions. (images)

The moth life cycle has four stages starting with an egg, followed by a caterpillar (that usually eat plants), a pupa and finally the adult.

Moth collections

People have been collecting moths for over three centuries, collections are made for a variety of reasons.

  • To collect examples all the moths in a particular region or country, as a reference or check list.
  • To collect examples of all the different varieties of moths of a particular species
  • To help others identify species or as a teaching aid.
  • To show how educated and culturally refined the collector was.

In more recent times we collect Voucher specimens, to confirm the identity of a species, and confirm its presence at a particular location on a particular and date.

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