Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why You Gotta Be Hatin'?

Moths get a bad rap. 

Maybe not so much a bad rap as ignored when compared to their lepidoptera kin, the butterfly. Butterflies are everywhere, commercially, and are pretty much seen universally as signs of peace and sunshine, except in Japan, where I've been told moths and butterflies are a common fear, like snakes and spiders in the United States.  Random trivia: fear of moths is known as "Mottephobia."  As a knitter, I know one of the cases against them; they chew holes in lovely wooly bits.  More random trivia-- when moths chow down on your beloved wool knits, they aren't actually hankerin' after the fiber, so don't get jealous-- you can have the wool!  It's the lanolin and your body oils they love to chow down on.
If asked to name some famous moths-- if you can name one at all-- you might come up with Mothra, who certainly isn't a shining example of why we should love moths as much as their flitty (maybe even flaky?), daytime counterparts.

There are a few major differences between butterflies and moths:

1.  Moths rest with their wings out to the sides, while butterflies generally rest with their wings straight up.
2.  Most moths are out and about at dusk and dawn (crepuscular), and at night (nocturnal), while butterflies are diurnal (active during the day).
3.  Moths tend to have thicker and furrier bodies and antennae, while butterflies have thinner, scaled bodies with finer antennae.
4.  This does not hold true for all moths, but I think it is why they are less popular (think of an eighties' high school-- popular kids wear colors like pastel pink and yellow and blue; Ducky wears grey plaid.  But, here's my point.  Who is ultimately more cool?). Moth wings tend to be black, brown, grey, rust, and white, while butterflies are famous for their varied wing hues, for camouflage purposes.  The rosy maple moth and the luna moth are great examples of moths that screw that noise.

If you want a close-up observation of some of these traits yourself, here's a recipe for moth goop to paint on a tree (or a removable sheet you can pin up and take down later, if you have bears or raccoons in your area!) before the nights get too cold.  This goop attracts moths by nature of the sugar, both processed and from the fermented fruit.

One brown banana in its peel, left to sit in the sun for a day
1/4 cup Maple Syrup or Honey (Maple Syrup works best, in my experience)
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

Peel the banana and mash it all up in cup until it's of a pasty consistency, then with a paintbrush, paint it very, very thinly on the tree or sheet (if it's too thick the moths will get stuck in it and not be able to fly away).  If you have a light source (spotlight, floodlight, porch light), this is even more effective! Expect the moths to start arriving around late dusk.

For those of you who still think moths are a bit icky, here's a trick: bats, who are natural predators of moths, emit SONOR to help them locate their tasty treat.  While we humans can't hear the sound of SONOR, moths can-- and to them, it sounds like keys jingling on a key ring!  Shake your keys around when you get home and moths are flocking around your porch light-- the sound should scare them off right quick.


sarah marie p said...

Yay for your bloggy! Soooo excited that you're now a little blogger! fun fun! Lovin the colors you chose for the layout and your header! And of course, your sexay picture! You are too cool! Your first post was quite informative -- I had no idea moths were after oils and such, not wool ... or that the crazy-cool rosy maple moth existed! I also didn't know about the keys trick -- I love that you included it -- in case people still didn't like moths at the end of the post! hee. You're too cute! Great first post -- can't wait to read more from you!

Istvan said...

Hi There,

Cute, but what is one to do when you open up the cupboard and see a dozen of these vermin hanging out, lurking near my bag of sugar? You don't see butterflies doing that.