Moths Have Developed Particular Flight Patterns That Help Them Escape From Predators
Unless you are a professional entomologist, you probably don’t have much to say about moths. Wasps are not the most exciting of insects, but if you have ever stepped on one, then you may have noticed something strange. When people crush moths, a powdery residue can often be seen coming off of them. In reality, this smokey-substance was not any type of powder; instead what you saw were scales. That is right, moths have scales too. In fact, the moth’s family name is Lepidoptera, which means “scale wing”. We all know fish to have scales, which may be necessary for some aquatic organisms, but why would a flying insect need scales? The scales that are located on a moth’s wings actually provide a number of beneficial uses.
Moths possess wings that are covered in scales mainly to assist with flight. When moths are flying around, air gets trapped in between their wings and scales, which creates lift. There is also another reason as to why scales are important to moths, and it turns out that their lives depend on these seemingly functionless scales. When moths get caught in spider webs, their scales come in handy. As you may know from crushing a moth in the past, a moth’s tiny powder-like scales can easily become detached from their wings. When a moth’s body adheres to a spider webs sticky surface, a moth can simply fly away while leaving their detached scales sticking to the silken spider web. Luckily for moths, it is the moth’s scales that attach to a sticky spider web, and not a moth’s wings. However, these scales can sometimes draw bird predators toward a moth, especially if the scales display a colorful design. In these cases, moths resort to an erratic flying technique that leaves birds dizzy as they try to track down their insect-meal. Butterflies also resort to this method of predator evasion.
Do you think that the scales on moth wings could be replicated in robots that are built to mimic a moth or a butterflies flight movements?