Role of Moths in the Ecosystem
Moths worldwide are perceived with contempt due to their irksome presence and destructive fabric-eating nature. But the hatred towards them is a bit unjustified if seen in the context of the role of moths in the ecosystem.
As they are close relatives of butterflies, some moth species are extremely beautiful, but besides enhancing the beauty of the natural ecosystem, they play several other beneficial roles.
Read on to learn about some of the amazing jobs these little flyers carry out in the ecosphere.
Pollination is the top role of moths in the ecosystem. They provide pollination services to flowers by flying from one flower to another to drink nectar, and while they’re sucking in the nectar, pollen from the male organs of the flowers gets attached to their bodies. When they fly between flowers they dispose of pollen on the female organs of the flowers and thus aid in pollination.
Worldwide moths are known for pollinating several species of orchids and lily. In the U.S they’re key pollinators of cactus and milkweed. In the UK moths play a significant role in pollinating wildflowers like bramble, white campion, wild carrot, ragwort, thistle, and honeysuckle.
Moths are pollinators of a wide range of plants even some flowers solely rely upon moths for their pollination and existence. Benefits of moths aren’t restricted to just wild plants, but they are equally beneficial for food crops, and ensure high yield.
Surveys have proved that moths are the second most important pollinators in the world just behind bees.
Larvae of moths are sometimes used to control invasive plant species in the fields. They are strategically introduced to fields infested by poisonous, invasive plants, and these caterpillars help in wiping them out by eating them.
One such example is the use of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, which were especially transported to the US so that they will eat away Tansy Ragwort. Tansy Ragwort was a poisonous pest plant from Eurasia and was extremely toxic to livestock and other animals.
Food for Predators
With more than 150,000 species of moths on the planet, it can’t be said that they are useless. They are beneficial for animals too as they’re food for a wide variety of wildlife animals. Moths including their larvae are a food source to other animals including:
Some species of moths spin a silk cocoon around themselves when they are transforming from the caterpillar stage to the adult stage. To make use of the silk they spin experts have domesticated silk moths into a valuable commercial livestock species.
When caterpillars produce lustrous silk threads to spin cocoons, these threads are unraveled and used to make fine textile silk.
Environment’s Health Indicators
Moths tell us about the health of the natural environment. They are extremely sensitive to climate change, and because of their wide-range habitat, they are expert indicators of the environment’s overall health.
They are expert indicators of air pollution and climate change. So, they are often used to test new farming practices or pesticides in any area. Butterflies and moths serve as model organisms for ecologists, and for centuries have been studied to investigate areas of biological research including the impact of climate change, habitat loss, and fragmentation.
Moths have a unique life-cycle which has been widely used worldwide to educate children about the wonders of the natural world. The amazing transformation of an egg into a caterpillar and then into an adult is rarely seen in other creatures. Their every stage is unique and complete in its own self. Their iridescence and intricate wing patterns are another interesting educational aspect.
Aside from the role of moths in the ecosystem, they are economically beneficial for their host countries too. Nature lovers travel large distances looking for new butterflies and moths. They bring with them valuable income to the countries they’re visiting.
Eco-tours to various European countries, and other regions famous for butterflies and moths bring foreign exchange to the respective countries and help facilitate their economy. These areas include Monarch Roost in Mexico and Valley of Butterflies in Rhodes.***
More Related Articles About Moths: