WATCH: Emergency moth surgery

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“Listen, nestmates! The sound of wings! Mother has returned!”

“Mother! Mother! What have you brought us?”

“I am sorry, my hatchlings. A had found you a wonderful meal, but a giant attacked me and stole it.”

“It is ok cough mother. Though we are so very weak, you tried your best. Perhaps not all of us will die…”


I bet you’re great fun to watch romcom’s with, too. :smile:


There were a few mornings at camp when this would have been useful knowledge to have. I’d never get between a bird and its meal, but moths–cecropia, luna, imperial–would be clustered along the bathhouse walls. A few had damaged wings. A few got their wings damaged by jackasses who wouldn’t leave them alone.

Then again I’m terrible with knots and couldn’t even make one of those lariat keychains. I’d probably do more damage than good.


An intact moth is great for microscopy shenanigans.

So the cuteness of the animal is where we draw the line of when to interrupt the food chain?

Hopefully the point of the article is to highlight the fascination with trying to repair a moth, and not, “Robins are such fascists, deciding which moths live and die!”

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Ever been to the Valley of the Butterflies in Rhodes? It should be called the Valley of the Moths, but they decided that would be harder to market.

Thank you, said the grateful moth - now free to live out the remaining 72 hours granted for its life on earth, before laying eggs and expiring.


He took the time to video it, add music and some info, but not what he was actually doing to the wing that he learned online.


Years ago our neighbor found a cecropia in her garden. The local agriculture extension told her how to care for it, which she did; it laid eggs and they hatched, the caterpillars are just as amazing looking as the moths.

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First thing I thought of too. But I have had enough of robins eating chicks from other nesting birds in our yard. From my narrow anthropocentric viewpoint, fuck robins. They look cute and harmless until you observe them enough.

YouTuber Eric Nordrum found a beautiful cecropia moth being attacked by a robin

Moments earlier:


The easiest way is to ask an entemologist, but they are not necessarily handy when you need one!

Male moths usually have high surface area on the antennae in order to track females by pheromone. I believe females typically do not. There are exceptions to both these rules; for example both sexes of Ascalapha odorata have butterfly-like antennae because they track by sound (moths that are capable of intentionally making sounds are quite rare).

In general moths are fat and fuzzy compared to butterflies. That’ll get you about 50% of the way. Generally moths and dragonflies lay their wings flat when at rest, butterflies and damselflies hold them vertically together. That’ll get you up to about 95%. But evolution favors disguise (think of hummingbird moths and bee-flies) so you really can’t be certain without keying the critter down.

I tell the kids not to handle butterflies and moths unless they have to. Those tiny interlocking scales are quite delicate, and just touching their wings might very well cause them pain.

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Very delicate. There are some microphotos on wikipedia of them (by me, I found one dead butterfly and decided to have fun with the corpse (“More power, Igor!”)).

The question is if there are nerve endings connected to the scales, or if their disruption only leads to degradation of flight parameters.

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Hey, nice work!

I like moths, and I haven’t got any way to know how insects process damage, so I prefer to play it safe. They might perhaps experience a lack of grace in flight as something analogous to how I feel with a stick in my eye, it’s unlikely but really impossible to say at this point.


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