group of mostly-nocturnal insects in the order Lepidoptera

Moths are a traditionally-defined grouping of insects consisting of all of the species belonging to the order Lepidoptera that are not butterflies. Entomologists previously classified moths as belonging to the suborder Heterocera, but this classification is rejected in contemporary taxonomy. Most moth species are nocturnal.


  • There are still lots of gaps in our knowledge of UK moths – hardly surprising given that we have 2,500 or so species here. For some, we still don’t know their natural food plant. For others, we don’t know if they still exist here. In this latter regard, it seems incredible to me that we are still arguing about the scale of insect declines in the UK, and what the causes of those declines are. We think moth numbers have probably dropped by 30% since 1970, but that information is only available for the commoner species of larger moths, and may be biased in various ways. While we have a rich history of moth recording, and some good data for moth population changes, we could really do with more.
  • ... Horse-Chestnut Leaf-miner (Cameraria ohridella) ... a beautiful tangerine-toned species, banded with silver ... was unknown in Britain before 2002, but has spread far and wide across England and Wales, becoming common wherever Horse-chestnut trees grow. This is not, however, a zero-to-hero story but one of zero-to-alleged villain. Forestry Research, Britain's public body responsible for tree-related research, classifies Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner as a pest. The moth's caterpillars munch away the tree's leaves, causing them to discolour before prematurely falling to the ground. In truth, this does not appear to impoverish the tree's health. But that, for public body and general public, alike, is beside the point. This moth is a pest, and pests must be persecuted.
    By lazy association, all moths are vexatious. This one chomps leaves, but others devour our clothes and carpets. And we really don't like that. Ergo all moths are evil. ...
    Pilloried, slighted and vilified, moths are Mother Nature's bad boys. Butterflies, those poster children of the insect world, have it easy.
  • Into the silver night
          She brought with her pale hand
        The topaz lanthorn-light,
      And darted splendour o’er the land;
          Around her in a band,
    Ringstraked and pied, the great soft moths came flying,
      And flapping with their mad wings, fann’d
    The flickering flame, ascending, falling, dying.
  •   Encyclopedic article on Moth on Wikipedia
  •   The dictionary definition of moth on Wiktionary