Moths matter too, say youths trying to spread awareness about winged insects

Butterflies are considered to be attractive, beautiful and colourful but the same cannot be said for moths, who are often ignored.
For representational purpose
For representational purpose

BENGALURU: Butterflies are considered to be attractive, beautiful and colourful but the same cannot be said for moths, who are often ignored. Now thanks to a group of moth enthusiasts, more people are starting to gain awareness about moths.

Five interns from the Indian Institute of Science (IIsc) and moth enthusiast Rachit Singh headed to Kodagu for a ‘Moth Watch’. They also convinced students from KALS School in Gonikoppal and students from College of Forestry in Ponnampet in Kodagu to help the younger generation learn about the importance of moths and their varied species.

The team wanted to conduct an awareness programme for National Moth Week, which occurs in the last week of July. They started their Moth Watch in Kodagu from July 28-30 in places like Balele Field Station, Institute of Wildlife Veterinary Research and College of Forestry. “We chose Kodagu because very less data is present here. The area has rich vegetation, a mix of plantations and moist deciduous forest is found there. The plant diversity was rich in the areas we explored,” said Singh.

While talking about the importance of moths, he explained that moths offer many ecological services to the ecosystem and are efficient pollinators of flowers, mainly the night-blooming ones. “Some species of orchids solely depend on Hawkmoths for their pollination. They are also the key members of the food web and various organisms such as bats, spiders and birds feed on them. They form the backbone of the global silk industry,” said Singh.

The team observed 250 species of moths in three days, including Atlas Moth, which is the largest in the world. They also spotted large slug moths (Phocoderma species), which have glossy patterns on their wings, and caterpillars that have stinging spines. Additionally, they also caught sight of three species of Hawk moths.

A presentation on moths was also given by Singh and Kishore Raj D – who is an intern at Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, IISC – to school and college students. That’s not all, the team even uploaded the moth species data on Inaturalist (a biodiversity website) and the India Biodiversity Portal, where the number of species of moths in the country and state is recorded.

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