moth


moth
/mawth, moth/, n., pl. moths /mawdhz, modhz, mawths, moths/.
1. any of numerous insects of the order Lepidoptera, generally distinguished from the butterflies by having feathery antennae and by having crepuscular or nocturnal habits.
2. See clothes moth.
[bef. 950; ME motthe, OE moththe; akin to G Motte, ON motti]

* * *

I
Any of several thousand lepidopteran species, found in all but polar habitats.

Moths are chiefly nocturnal and have a stouter body, duller colouring, and proportionately smaller wings than butterflies. They have distinctive feathery antennae and, when at rest, fold their wings, wrap them around the body, or hold them extended at their sides. Wingspans range from less than 1 in. (2.5 cm) to about 1 ft (30 cm). The life cycle has four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar, or worm), pupa (chrysalis), and adult (imago). Both larvae and adults of most species are plant eaters, and many seriously damage forests, agricultural crops, and fabrics. See also bagworm moth; gypsy moth; hawk moth; luna moth; miller; saturniid moth; silkworm moth; tiger moth; tussock moth.
II
(as used in expressions)
sphinx moth

* * *

insect
 any of more than 150,000 species of overwhelmingly nocturnal flying insects (insect) that, along with the butterflies (butterfly) and skippers (skipper), constitute the order Lepidoptera (lepidopteran).

      Moths vary greatly in size, ranging in wingspan from about 4 mm (0.16 inch) to nearly 30 cm (about 1 foot). Highly adapted, they live in all but polar habitats. The wings, bodies, and legs of moths are covered with dustlike scales (scale) that come off if the insect is handled. Compared with butterflies (butterfly), moths have stouter bodies and duller colouring. Moths also have distinctive feathery or thick antennae. When at rest, moths either fold their wings tentlike over the body, wrap them around the body, or hold them extended at their sides, whereas butterflies hold their wings vertically.

 As with all lepidopterans, the moth life cycle has four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult (imago). The larvae and adults of most moth species are plant eaters. Larvae in particular do considerable damage to ornamental trees and shrubs and to many other plants of economic importance. The bollworm and measuring worm are two of the most destructive types of moth larvae. Some moth species (especially those of the family Tineidae (tineid moth), which includes the clothes moth) eat wool, fur, silk, and even feathers.

 Some of the better-known moth families include: Gelechiidae (gelechiid moth), to which the destructive bollworms of cotton, corn, tomatoes, and other crops belong; Tortricidae, or leaf roller moths (leaf roller moth), which are forest pests; Lymantriidae, the tussock moths (tussock moth), also containing forest pests such as the gypsy moth; Arctiidae, the tiger moths (tiger moth), with many brightly coloured tropical species; Olethreutidae (olethreutid moth), including several destructive species such as the codling moth and the Oriental fruit moth; Noctuidae, the owlet moths (owlet moth), the largest family of lepidopterans (21,000 species); Saturniidae (saturniid moth), the giant silkworm moths, containing the largest individual; and Geometridae (geometrid moth), measuring worm moths (measuring worm), including the waves, pugs, and carpet moths. For more detailed information see lepidopteran.

Additional Reading
John Himmelman, Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard (2002), is an introduction to the natural history, economic significance, classification, collection, and lore of these nocturnal lepidopterans. V. J. Stanek, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Butterflies and Moths, ed. by Brian Turner, trans. from the Czech by Vera Gissing (1977, reissued 1993); and Mauro Daccordi, Paolo Triberti, and Adriano Zanetti, The Macdonald Encyclopedia of Butterflies and Moths (1988), provide highly illustrated and authoritative accounts of the world's Lepidoptera.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Moth — Moth, n.; pl. {Moths} (m[o^]thz). [OE. mothe, AS. mo[eth][eth]e; akin to D. mot, G. motte, Icel. motti, and prob. to E. mad an earthworm. Cf. {Mad}, n., {Mawk}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any nocturnal lepidopterous insect, or any not included among the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • moth|y — «MTH ee, MOTH », adjective, moth|i|er, moth|i|est. infested by moths; moth eaten …   Useful english dictionary

  • Moth — ist der Name von Sophie Amalie Moth (1654−1719), Mätresse des dänisch norwegischen König Christian V. Franz Xaver Moth (1802 1879), böhmischer Mathematiker. Siehe auch: International Moth Class Diese Seite ist eine …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • MOTH — (Heb. עָשׁ, ash and סָס, sas; AV, JPS – worm ), insect said to eat and destroy clothes (Isa. 51:8; cf. 50:9; Job 13:28). The word ash is also used as a synonym for disintegration and   destruction (Hos. 5:12; Ps. 39:12). These names refer to the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • moth — [ mɔθ ] noun count a flying insect like a BUTTERFLY that flies mostly at night. The young form of some types of moth eat cloth: Protect your rug from damage by moths. like a moth to a candle flame used for emphasizing how much someone is… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • moth — [môth] n. pl. moths [môthz, môths] [ME motthe < OE moththe, akin to Ger motte < IE base * math , gnawing vermin] 1. any of various families of chiefly night flying lepidopteran insects, similar to the butterflies but generally smaller, less …   English World dictionary

  • Moth — (m[o^]th), n. A mote. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • moth — (n.) O.E. moððe (Northumbrian mohðe), common Germanic (Cf. O.N. motti, M.Du. motte, Du. mot, Ger. Motte moth ), perhaps related to O.E. maða maggot, or from the root of MIDGE (Cf. midge) (q.v.). Until 16c. used mostly of the larva and usually in… …   Etymology dictionary

  • moth|er-to-be — «MUHTH uhr tu BEE», noun, plural moth|ers to be. an expectant mother …   Useful english dictionary

  • moth|er — moth|er1 «MUHTH uhr», noun, verb, adjective. –n. 1. a woman who has given birth to a child: »The mother and father were very proud of their new baby. 2. a female parent: »The puppies have lost their mother. 3. Figurative. the cause or source of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • moth — [mɔθ US mo:θ] n [: Old English; Origin: moththe] an insect related to the ↑butterfly that flies mainly at night and is attracted to lights. Some moths eat holes in cloth …   Dictionary of contemporary English


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.