About National Moth Week

About National Moth Week

  • National Moth Week is a global citizen science project focusing on moths.
  • The first National Moth Week took place in July 2012.
  • National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths.
  • “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods.
  • National Moth Week is being held, worldwide, during the last full week of July.
  • NMW offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths.
  • Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, NMW participants can help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe.

 

Background

  • Scientific contributions by non-professionals are well documented, particularly in fields of study where observation is important
  • Moth biodiversity is remarkably high as these insects are one of the most successful lineages of organisms on earth
  • Global climate change and habitat destruction create an urgency to map moth species’ distributions and describe their phenology
  • Until recently, resources for moth identification were limited to highly technical manuals and journals.
  • This provides an excellent opportunity for non-professional citizen scientists to make meaningful scientific contributions about moths.
  • National Moth Week provides a global venue for these efforts by creating a platform focused on awareness, appreciation and data collection of moths.

 

About Moths

  • Moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth.
  • Scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species.
  • Moths belong to phylum of arthropods (Arthropoda).
  • Butterflies and moths have 120,000 species, out of which moth is estimated between 150,000 to more than 500,000 species.
  • India is home to more than 10,000 moth species, including the large and flamboyant Indian moon moth Actias selene.
  • As an important food sources for many animals, moths can be indicators of ecosystem health.

 

 

Importance of Moth

  • They are a major part of our biodiversity and play vital roles in the ecosystem, affecting many other types of wildlife.
  • Both adult moths and their caterpillars are food for a wide variety of wildlife, including other insects, spiders, frogs, toads, lizards, shrews, hedgehogs, bats and birds.
  • Night-flying adult moths form a major part of the diet of bats.
  • Many birds eat both adult moths and their caterpillars, but the caterpillars are especially important for feeding the young.
  • Moth caterpillars have a great impact on plants by eating their leaves.
  • Moths also benefit plants by pollinating flowers while feeding on their nectar, and so help in seed production.
  • This not only benefits wild plants but also many of our food crops, which depend on moths as well as other insects to ensure a good harvest.
  • Moths also play a vital role in telling us about the health of our environment, like the canary in the coalmine.
  • Since they are so widespread and found in so many different habitats, and are so sensitive to changes, moths are particularly useful as indicator species.
  • Monitoring their numbers and ranges can give us vital clues to changes in our own environment, such as the effects of new farming practices, pesticides, air pollution and climate change.

 

Reason behind diversity

  • If diversification is a measure of evolutionary success, the arthropods are unmatched.
  • One characteristic of insects has been central to their success: the way they cope with the change in body size as they grow.
  • Usually baby animals are smaller than adults.
  • As a result a tiny baby cannot feed themselves.
  • Mammals solve that problem by supplying milk to infants and providing parental care until the young animal has grown large enough to feed and take care of itself.
  • Many insects have a different way of solving the problem by a process called metamorphosis.

 

Metamorphosis

The life history of insects is divided into three completely different stages

  1. An egg hatches into a larva, which looks completely different from an adult. A caterpillar is the larval stage of a butterfly or moth. A larva’s job is to eat and grow large enough to enter the next life stage, the pupa.
  1. pupa is covered by a case, and inside that covering the body structures of the larva are broken down to molecules and then reassembled into the adult form. This rebuilding process is called metamorphosis.
  1. When the adult form hatches from the pupa, it is at its full size. Insects do not grow after they emerge from their pupae. For this reason, some adults do not even eat. Rather than eating and growing, the job of an adult insect is reproduction.

 

 

Section : Environment & Ecology

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