Are Moths Blind? You’ll Be Surprised! (2022 Update)

Are Moths Blind Or Can They See

Want to find out more about moths? You’re in the right place. You’ll find out if moths are blind or can actually see really well. Also, what’s the difference between moth eyes and butterfly eyes.

Are moths blind?

Moths are not blind at all. Most of the moth species are nocturnal, and they have perfectly adapted to see in the dark when they are active the most. They have superposition eyes that allow them to create images up to 1000 times brighter than equivalent apposition eyes.

A UK study published by The Royal Society in 2020 established that moths are important nocturnal pollinators of a wide range of plants, and as such, it’s important for us to know how they work and how they see.

Can Moths See
Is it a bird? Is it a bee?

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Moths are Batmen to Supermen (bees). They complement each other in pollinating flowers and crops.

While bumblebees and honeybees target the obvious nectar and pollen sources, moths are indiscriminate and target all the flowers and plants they can get a hold on, just like Batman. He is not averse to fighting low-level thugs and high-level masterminds alike.

There are more day-flying moths in the UK than there are types of butterflies.

The Difference Between Moth And Butterfly Eyes

Moth EyesButterfly Eyes
superposition eyesapposition eyes
optical elements in superposition eyes form a single, erect imagegathering images one from each eye
1000 times brighter images but the reduced resolutionless bright images

Butterfly's eye
Butterfly’s eye

Although their eyes might look similar, moths and butterflies have different types of compound eyes. Moths usually have superposition eyes, while butterflies mostly have apposition eyes.

Apposition eyes are the most common form of eyes and are presumably the ancestral form of compound eyes. They work by gathering images, one from each eye, and combining them in the brain, with each eye typically contributing a single point of information.

Are moths blind

Most nocturnal insects, such as moths and beetles, possess refracting superposition eyes. The lenses and photoreceptors are separated by a wide, optically clear region known as the clear zone.

Although moths can see up to 1000 times brighter images than equivalent apposition eyes, they can see them at reduced resolution.

You’ll be lucky if you see 15 different butterflies in your garden, but in some parts of England, you could see 300-400 different moths.

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Why Are Moths Attracted To Light?

We all know that moths are attracted to light and flame. But why is that? Why would they fly into light or even fire where they would die for sure? There’s still no concrete reason why they do that because moths aren’t big talkers. In fact, most of them don’t even have a mouth.

But we can speculate.

Phototaxis is an organism’s automatic movement toward or away from light. As a general rule, moths practice positive phototaxis while cockroaches, for example, do negative phototaxis. It is thought that by maintaining a constant angular relationship to bright celestial light, such as the Moon, moths can fly in a straight line.

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Of course, the Moon is pretty far away, and the angle between the Moon and a moth doesn’t change much. But now that we have artificial lights every two feet, the moths find it extremely difficult to navigate.

By maintaining a constant angle to the light source, they end up spiraling out of control and plummeting to the ground. Light pollution is a moth’s worst enemy and is probably the leading cause of the decline in moth populations, together with pesticides and herbicides.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.