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Why Do Moths Like Light?

Updated on June 28, 2012

Why moths like the light: A short introduction

Have you ever wondered why the moment nightfall hits, if you've still got your lights on moths will continue to hurl themselves at your window?

Or have you ever noticed how you seem to get moths gathering around your porch light, seemingly trying to commit suicide?

Well, there's a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation to it all, and I'm about to share it with you.

Why moths like light: The science bit

Moths are what is known as 'positive phototactic' - which quite simply means that they are drawn to light.

Whereas some creatures are 'negative phototactic' and will draw away from the light, moths do the opposite. There are a number of possible explanations which suggest why this happens, but the most commonly believed is that once a moth has been in the light, it takes it an awfully long time to re-adjust to dark, giving a feeling of being blind. Because of this, a moth will actively try to seek out light again or remain in the light because it doesn't understand that if it waits a while it will re-adjust to the dark.

Why moths like light: The other factor

Another reason moths will continue to bounce around your window like there's no tomorrow, is that they use the moonlight as a way of mating. Moths will engage in complicated and unpredictable 'mating dances' to attract other moths, and in nature this has been traditionally done by the light of the moon (how romantic).

However, whilst humans have evolved and developed artificial light... moths are still a fair way behind us, and therefore don't realise that such light isn't actually the moon.

So in conclusion? The moths hammering against your window... are actually just horny!

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    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Very interresting. Often wondered why Rabbits caught in headlights seem to stay in them as long as they can!