Why are moths drawn to lamps?


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/16/why-are-moths-drawn-to-lamps.html




Fun fact: Thomas Edison specifically invented the light bulb to attract moths, his favorite snack.


For years I’ve wondered what the introduction of the electric light meant for moth populations, since there were probably no serious studies of moths being done at the time.


Many moth populations have adapted, many have not. The near-extinction of the beautiful Luna moth shows what happens to those who cannot adapt - they maintain tenuous breeding populations in relatively unlit areas, and those that wander out beat themselves to death against streetlights.


I’ve read that it might also have something to do with Mach bands (though the info’s nearly 30 years old).

(Maybe the NatGeo mentioned this? I didn’t click)


I always think of the moths whenever someone dismisses an exploit or failure mode as ‘impractical’ or ‘unrealistic’.

Any moth merchant could have told you that the risk of an adversary building a network of some hundreds of millions(billons? global lightbulb statistics are eluding me) of disruption nodes is absurdly small; just imagine the resources involved!


I don’t know, why ARE moths drawn to lamps?

*awaits punchline


Their unabiding love for light opera.


Serves them right, sweater-eating little vermin.


In 34 years of life i’ve never had moths eat clothes :thinking: Then again i’ve probably just happened to live in states/countries where that wasn’t a concern?


Because their wings are too frail to fly them to the Moon, or let them play among the stars, and they will never see what spring is like on Jupiter or Mars.


If you are like me and live in jeans and tshirts, the only time I ever see a full fledged business type suit is when there’s a wedding or a funeral.
I just recently had two funerals to go to (in same week) and pulled my trusty suit from it’s storage bag in back of the closet. I was checking the jacket and noticed several small pinholes on the sleeve and back…and no, I don’t smoke weed.
Seems the jacket is 100% wool and even though I’ve never seen a moth nearby, I apparently have them.
Now I know why my dad’s suits all smelled like mothballs.


While there declining moth populations, in fact all insects are declining, the Luna Moth population is healthy.


“Don’t look into the light”
“I can’t help it”


Mothra’s coming!!!
Hide your sweaters!
Turn on the really big bug light!


Yep, I’ve actually had a couple of nice sweaters ruined. It’s not just cartoons.


I once stayed in a Las Vegas hotel with an excellent view of the spotlight at the top of the Luxor pyramid. Just after dusk the spotlight would switch on, and you could see thousands of insects dancing in and out of the beam. A local bat colony seemed to have figure out that this is a great attraction for food. It was amazing to watch the bats chow down.


I love this meme.