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Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in Tell Me Why Numerous Questions and Answers |

Why Are Moths Attracted to a Light?

Why Are Moths Attracted to a Light?

Scientists tell us that moths are not really attracted to the light itself. When moths fly at night, they use the moon as a beacon to guide them. By always keeping the light of the moon falling on its eyes at the same angle, a moth is able to fly a straight path.

Since the moon is far away, its light falls in much the same angle to the earth for whatever distance the moth might fly.

But nearby lights confuse it. When it tries to navigate by a street light instead of the moon, the moth is forced to fly in ever smaller circles that eventually lead to the light itself.

However, there’s not one generally agreed answer. Of the hundreds of thousands of moth species, many don’t gather around lights. We tend to notice those that do, especially when they self-immolate.

Even these differ: some spiral inwards, others head straight, but then orbit. The time of night and moth’s gender also make a difference. There’s some suggestion males mistake the heat and scent of candles for females.

Content for this question contributed by Kelly O’Brien, resident of Calistoga, Napa County, California, USA