Breaking news in the moth world!
It has always been known that most Moths have an almost fatal underlying attraction to bright lights- ‘like a moth to a flame’. How ever studies into how light pollution may effect these photosensitive animals has shed some light onto a deeply concerning trend.
It turns out that light pollution may be encouraging moths to stay away from lights!
Scientist spurred by the question that if the high level of mortality rate of moths that are attracted to light would effect the populations, have found that in a test using behavior of 1048 adult Ermine moths (Yponomeuta cagnagella) from areas with varying light pollution.
( a Ermine moth)
Once these moths had been raised to there final life stage and emerged as moths they were released into a cage with fluorescent tube in one side. It was found that moths that were from a high level of light pollution had a 30% reduction in the flight-to-light behavior so associated with moths, this indicates that those Moths is high light pollution areas may be learning to stay away from lights.
With this new survival technique there are costs; to avoid lights the moths in the experiment were found to fly less then others, this would mean that they would fly less in the wild leading to less pollination of local flowers, and less hunt-able food for animals such as bats and spiders.
It has also been predicted that data from previous studies may show the ‘declining’ moth populations may in fact be the moths in the area are evolving this new behaviour, meaning conservationists will have to become a bit more creative with their moth traps in the future.
When you think of pollution you think of plastic bags & waste, but sometimes it can be other types of impacts we are having, and with the new behavior emerging it has worrying implications for future generations of these moths, and those animals & plants that rely on them.
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A Behavioral entomologist. I love the little things that are often overlooked.