Have you ever wondered what the dust that is coming off moths when you touch them is? You’ve come to the right place.
Are moths made of dust?
Moths are not made of dust. The dust comes from scales made from modified hairs on the moth’s body. When they touch a surface, they lose some of the scales, and dust comes off their bodies. Scales also cover the head, parts of the thorax and abdomen, and parts of the genitalia.
What Is The Function Of Moth’s Scales?
Moth’s scales play a vital role in their day-to-day (or night-to-night) life. The scales are detachable and can easily come off, thus helping them to escape even the hairiest situations, like getting caught in spiderwebs.
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Thomas Eisner tested this by dropping various insects onto the spiderwebs. Moths were consistently escaping, and they all left impact spots where scales had stuck to the web.
Because of the darker color of the moth’s body, they can easily camouflage on tree branches and other plants during the daytime.
They are also, unlike butterflies, mostly active during the night and need more insulation because they can’t get warmed up by the sun. Luckily, they have thicker scales than butterflies that can help them with that.
Is Moth Dust Poisonous?
Moth dust can at worst irritate your eyes, but it’s not poisonous and can’t make you blind, contrary to popular belief. It’s just some scales coming off their fragile bodies.
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Do Moths Die If You Touch Them?
Moths might die if you touch them. Their wings are really fragile, and if they can’t fly, they are easy prey for their predators. If you see some scales coming off, they could still be OK as they don’t need scales to fly.
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Do Moths Die If They Get Wet?
Moths might die if they get wet. If water or rain droplets damage their wings and they can’t fly again, they’re as good as dead. This rarely happens. If the rain did significant damage to insects around us, there wouldn’t be any insects flying around a long time ago.
Luckily, insects have adapted to be able to withstand a good amount of water. Smaller insects could still get trapped in water droplets and drown, but most of the insects have developed water repellents like wax, hair, or in the case of moths and butterflies – scales.
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Do Moths Carry Diseases?
Moths do not carry diseases. They can cause allergic reactions in some people or even mild dermatitis. Luckily, they are not like mosquitoes which carry the deadliest disease – malaria.
Malaria may have killed half of all the people that ever lived and still causes around 2 million deaths each year!
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