Ocean City MD Moths (Heterocera)

Ocean City MD Moths (Heterocera)

Kingdom: Animalia >> Phylum: Arthropoda >> Class: Insecta >> Order: Lepidoptera >> Suborder: Heterocera

Moths are part of the Scientific Classification ‘Order‘ of Lepidoptera, and then into the Sub-Order Heterocera (unranked).  The (unranked) meaning that though this is the current common usage, as of this printing there is no official Sub-Order, so for our purposes, and until a change is made, we will use this unranked classification.

The Scientific Classification, or Taxonomy, is the science of classifying biological organism into groups with like characteristics.

Painted Lichen Moths | Ocean City MD Moths

Painted Lichen Moths (Hypoprepia fucosa) by Robert J Banach Photography

Moths, being a part of the Order Lepidoptera, are related to butterflies, and are the majority of the Order with over 160,000 known species.

The main, and distinguishing difference, between Moths and Butterflies is the antennae.  The butterflies have a thin antennae with a ball or club at the end, whereas moths have varied antennae and lack the ball / club end.  There is always an exception to the rule, at this time there is one known moth that has the ball / club end.

This difference in antennae is how we are classifying our Lepidoptera, the name Heterocera means ‘varied-antennae’, and the name Rhopalocera means ‘club-antennae’.

Moths go through a metamorphosis during their life-cycle, the are born as moth larvae, or caterpillars, and upon reaching a certain time in their life-cycle they then build a cocoon and become a full-grown moth.  Again, there are exceptions to the rule as some moths dig into the ground to perform this metamorphosis.

Moths; Boon or Bust

The Bombyx mori in its juvenile stage is notably the Silkworm, it is farmed for the silk it creates when making its’ cocoon.  Currently we farm them to produce over 143,300 tons of silk per year.

In contrast there are such moths as corn borers, boll worms and gypsy moths, to name a few, that cause havoc to agricultural crops as well as like the taste of some of our clothes.

Why Are Moths Attracted To Artificial Light?

To this day we still do not know the answer.  The current hypothesis that they are attracted to the light due to their innate celestial navigation, and mistakenly see this artificial light as the light that will lead them home.

Ocean City MD Moths

Let’s take a look at some of our Ocean City MD Moths…

Learn more about Moths

Wikipedia | MD Biodiversity Project | Everyday Mysteries (LOC) | Moths Count | Lepidopterist Society


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