Pitara Kids Network

Why are Moths Attracted to Light?

Have you seen moths zoom into a flame and die? It looks as if they are pulled by some unseen force.

It is an unseen force that attracts the moth — the ultraviolent light in the flame, which is invisible to humans. The moth finds it irresistible. It is driven to the light by its mating instinct.

Why are Moths attracted to light?

Ultraviolet vision helps moths get together in the dark. And it is the heat coming from their bodies that makes them aware of each other. Thus, the heat waves from the flame seem like the powerful signals sent by a supermoth. And the moths fall for it every time. They obviously do not learn from their mistakes.

It is the moths’ sense of smell that helps them come together. During the mating season, the female gives out an attractive smell. The male, who has a strong sense of smell, gets attracted to this. He zooms towards the female.

A beautiful Luna Moth (Actias luna) on purple clematis flowers.

Some males have elaborate antennae resembling feathery plumes. These carry sense organs that can pick up a scent as far as 10 km away.That may seem a huge amount of distance for a moth to respond. But these are the giant moths. There are certain kinds of moths, like the Atlas moths and the Hercules moths, which have a wingspan of about 30 cm. They are found in parts of east and southeast Asia.