Nine-spotted moth in Switzerland
© Thomas Marent/Minden Picture
The moth wonderful time of the year
All too often dismissed as pesky, drab cousins to brightly coloured butterflies, moths seem to hog every light but the spotlight. But these fuzzy little insects don't need to be flashy to win the numbers game: With an estimated 160,000 moth species (although some estimates go up to half a million), they vastly outnumber their glamorous relatives in the Lepidoptera order.
Plus, as the nine-spotted moth in today's image proves, butterflies are not the only ones sporting pretty patterns. This guy's orange stripes and white flecks across its 1.5-inch wingspan are an example of aposematism – colourful features that say 'I taste bad' to predators but 'I look good' to humans. And that's not all moths can tell us. They are important bioindicators, so a healthy moth population usually indicates a healthy environment. So, consider leaving the porch light on for a few nights on these summer evenings, to see what kind of moth-ley crew swarms to your door.