The Rentokil Blog UK

Why Are Moths Attracted To The Light?

Moths get confused by artificial lightThere’s been a lot of moths in my house recently. Leaving the windows open on a warm evening can attract moths and flying insects, especially if the lights are on. I know this; but I still do it, because it’s hot, and it’s nice to have some fresh air blowing through the house.

Some moths can be a problem and most are nocturnal, so you may not even know you have them. They are cunning masters of disguise. If undetected, moths can damaged textiles, fabrics, carpets, woollen garments and upholstered furniture and contaminated stored products, foodstuffs and fabric-based products. There are many, many species of moths in the UK but we have some of the more common pest moths pictured in our moth pest guide.

Sometimes it’s not the moth, but the caterpillar which can be harmful. The caterpillar of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) causes severe damage to forests in the northeast United States, where it is an invasive species. In the UK the Oak Processionary Moth caterpillar can be a health hazard to humans as well as a threat to oak trees.

7 Facts About Moths

  • Nocturnal moths use the moon to navigate but can become confused by artificial light. This may be one of the reasons why moths flutter around a light – they may be trying to figure out over which shoulder the moon should be.
  • Bats can locate and snap a moth out of midair in a nanosecond.
  • The female moth lays between 60 and 300 eggs.
  • Moths are not powdery; they have thousands of tiny scales.
  • Butterflies and moths hear sounds through their wings.
  • The Sphinx Hawk moth is the fastest moth in the world, capable of reaching speeds over 30 miles per hour.
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One Comment

  1. Bill
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Moths circle artificial light. The reason for this behavior is unproven. One idea to explain this behavior is moths use a technique of celestial navigation. By maintaining a constant angular relationship to a bright celestial light, such as the Moon, they can fly in a straight line. Celestial objects are so far away, that even after travelling great distances, the change in angle between the moth and the light is negligible. When a moth encounters a much closer artificial light and uses it for navigation, the angle changes noticeably after only a short distance. The moth instinctively attempts to correct by turning toward the light, resulting in a spiral flight path that gets closer and closer to the light source.

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