What Do Moths Eat?

What Do Moths Eat?
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Moths are insects categorized under the Order Lepidoptera, which they share with butterflies. Over 160, 000 moth species exist in the world today, with many of these yet to be described scientifically.

Moths eat many different things. A majority of the moths dine on leaves and flowers from plants. Some caterpillar moths feed on seeds, fruit, animal products like fur or beeswax. In contrast, the carnivorous ones consume aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

This page will shed light on the different types of moths, pointing out what they eat and how they hunt. We will also explore insight into when moths eat, how often they eat, what predates on them, and their role in the animal food chain.

What Do Atlas Moths Eat?

What Do Atlas Moths Eat?

Atlas moth (Attacus Atlas) is one of the largest insects on the earth. Their wingspan can extend up to 12 inches wide, which explains why they are considered giant moths.

  • This moth species is native to the southeast Asian region. They are famed for the markings on their wings’ upper areas, which resemble a cobra’s head.
  • The Atlas moth caterpillars can grow to 5 inches long, thanks to their regular intake of cinnamon leaves, citrus fruits, guava, and cherry trees.
  • Adult atlas moths do not eat at all. As such, food consumption at the caterpillar stage can sustain them during their pupal and adult stages.

What Do Tiger Moths Eat?

What Do Tiger Moths Eat?

Tiger moths inhabit a vast range of open habitats.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Erebidae Arctia Arctia caja
  • Tiger moths are notable for their colorful orange and black markings that resemble tigers.
  • The tiger moth caterpillars feed on a vast range of herbaceous plants such as the hounds’ tongue, common nettle, broad-leaved dock, and water dock.
  • Tiger moths also love drinking nectar from wildflowers, and they also eat lichens.

What Do Wavy-lined Emerald Moths Eat?

What Do Wavy-Lined Emerald Moths Eat?

The wavy-lined emerald moth (Synchlora aerate) is classified under the family Geometridae.

  • This moth species is common in most parts of North America.
  • The wavy-lined emerald moth larval stage mostly feeds on flowers, particularly the compositeones.
  • This moth type also dines on different flowering treesand shrubs.

What Do Rustic Sphinx Moths Eat?

Rustic sphinx moths are classified under the family Sphingidae, alongside other sphinx moths.

What Do Rustic Sphinx Moths Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Sphingidae Manduca Manduca rustica
  • This moth species is native to the Southeastern parts of the United States of America.
  • The rustic moth is moderately large, with a wingspan of about 3.5-6 inches.
  • The rustic sphinx caterpillars are herbivores, often found feeding on ash, basil, jasmine, desert willow, sunflower, olive, and sesame plants.

What Do Small Emerald Moths Eat?

The small emerald moth (Hemistola chrysoprasaria) occurs in Britain’s southern parts, commonly inhabiting hedgerows, limestone, and woodland edges.

  • The small emerald moth is herbivorous. The small emerald’s larvae are known to feed on traveler’s joy (Clematis vitalba), a shrub classified in the buttercup family.

What Do Elephant Hawk Moths Eat?

What Do Elephant Hawk Moths?

The Elephant hawk-moth is a beautiful gold and pink moth, often spotted at dusk in habitats like gardens, grassy lawns, woodlands, and parks.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Sphingidae Deilephila Deilephila elpenor
  • The elephant hawk moth draws its name from the features it possesses. For example, the name elephant is because their larvae look like elephant trunks.
  • Their ability to flap their wings hastily and to move into position before eating gives a clue to their name, “hawk. “.
  • The elephant hawk-moth is vegetarian, preferring a diet of nectar drawn from night-scented flowers. Their long proboscis comes in handy to help the elephant hawk moth suck nectar from flowers.

What Do Rosy Maple Moths Eat?

What Do Rosy Maple Moths Eat?

The rosy maple moth is native to North America. This moth species commonly inhabits temperate deciduous forests in this region.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Saturniidae Dryocampa Dryocampa rubicunda
  • The rosy maple moths get their names from the host trees. They are commonly found next to maple trees.
  • Rosy maple moth larvae are herbivores (folivores in particular), preferring a maple leaf blades diet. Adult moth species do not eat.

What Do White Ermine Moths Eat?

What Do White Ermine Moths Eat?

The white ermine moths (Spilosoma lubricipeda) are medium-sized moths that get their name from their appearance.

  • These moths have black specks covering their white coats, which gives the appearance of an ermine coat.
  • The white ermine moths inhabit hedgerows, coastal areas, heathland, grassland, garden, woodland, and moorland.
  • The caterpillars of the white ermine moths feed on various herbaceous plants found within their habitats.

What Do Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moths Eat?

What Do Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moths Eat?

The eastern tent caterpillar moths are widespread in the central and east parts of the United States of America.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Lasiocampidae Malacosoma Malacosoma americanum
  • This moth commonly inhabits forests. You can notice the eastern tent caterpillar moths next to human habitations.
  • The eastern tent caterpillars dine on leaves, making them folivores. Their preferred leaves are plum, apple, peach, cherry (black cherry, chokecherry, or pin cherry), or Hawthorne trees.

What Do Green-spotted Moths Eat?

The green-spotted moth is also referred to as the speckled green fruitworm moth or the speckled green quaker.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Noctuidae Orthosia Orthosia hibisci

  • This moth is non-green. It gets its name from its caterpillar, which has a green body with white speckles.
  • The caterpillar of the green-spotted moth feeds on many fruit trees’ leaves, fruits, and flowers. Some of the preferred trees are maple, birch, and maple.

What Do Redbud Leaffolder Moths Eat?

The adult forms of the redbud leaffolder moths (Fascista Cercerisella) are small insects that are either black or dark brown and white spots.

  • The redbud leaffolder moth gets its name because it is often found on the redbud tree. They have the unique ability to fold the edges of this tree’s leaves using silk strands.
  • The caterpillars of the redbud leaf folder moth feed only on the leaves of the redbud tree.

What Do Carpenterworm Moths Eat?

The carpenterworm moth (Prionoxystus robinia) is native to the North American region, particularly in riparian habitats.

  • This moth species gets its name because its larval forms consume sap from their preferred trees, expelling sawdust from their entrance holes.
  • The carpenterworm larvae dine on a wide array of deciduous trees with examples of oaks, maple, willow, elm, black locust, birch, cherry, peach, pear, and apricot.
  • The carpenterworm larvae infest ornamental, and fruit trees that they consume and are thus considered notorious pests.

What Do Melonworm Moths Eat?

What Do Melonworm Moths Eat?

Melonworm moths (Diaphania hyalinata) are found in wide distribution in the Caribbean and central and south America.

  • Melonworm moths are folivores, preferring a diet of cucumber, melon, pumpkins, and squash foliage. When their preferred vegetation is lacking, the melon worm moth larvae can consume the surface of- or burrow into the cantaloupe fruit.

What Do Orangestriped Oakworm Moths Eat?

The orange-striped oak worm is endemic to North America. The larvae of the orange-striped oakworm are herbivorous.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Lepidoptera Saturniidae Anisota Anisota senatoria

  • This moth mainly consumes the plants of the oak species.
  • The oak vegetation examples that the orange-striped oakworm moth feeds on are maple, birch, and hickory.

When Do Moths Eat?

When Do Moths Eat?

A majority of the moth species are nocturnal, meaning they are active and come out to eat at night. A few moth species are active during the day, so they will be found eating during the daylight hours.

How Often Do Moths Eat?

How Often Do Moths Eat?

Moth larvae are the most gluttonous eaters compared to adult moths. After morphing into adults, a majority of the moth species do not eat at all.

  • Many of these adult moths die soon after mating. Moth larvae eat as often as possible and mostly large quantities of food immediately after birth. They proceed with this trend for a few days after.
  • These larvae feed, depending on their sizes, will eat more food per day. The main goal of consuming too much food is to ensure that they grow in size to sustain themselves during the pupal stage.

What Eats Moths?

What Eats Moths?

Moths are found in abundance, making them critical players at the bottom of the food chain, considering that they are a great source of nutrients to many organisms that rely on them for food.

Examples of organisms that feed on moths include but are not limited to bats, some bird species like owls, sparrows, lizards, cats, dogs, bears, some rodents, and amphibians.

Do Moths Predate on Humans?

Moth Wings Allergic Reactions

Moths do not predate humans. A majority of the adult forms lack mouthparts.

  • Some of the harm they exert on humans is causing allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, mainly because of their wings.

What Role Do Moths play in the Animal Food Chain?

Moths Role In Animal Kingdom

Moths play an instrumental role at the bottom of the animal food chain because of their abundance.

  • The different lifecycle stages of moths are an essential food source for most animals such as bats, amphibians, small mammals, and nesting birds.
  • They are a terrific food source for nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc for the organisms that consume them. In this sense, moths play an excellent role as indicator species, giving clues about our environment’s health.

This implies that their absence or a massive decline in their numbers indicate a compromised ecosystem.

Cite this article as: "What Do Moths Eat?," in Bio Explorer, March 2, 2021, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-moths-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Atlas Moth | California Academy of Sciences”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Tiger Moths”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Wavy-lined Emerald Moth: Master of Disguise – Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria – UKMoths”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Elephant Hawk-moth: Caterpillar and Lifecycle – Woodland Trust”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “ADW: Dryocampa rubicunda: INFORMATION”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Spilosoma lubricipeda – white ermine” – Habitas.org.uk. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Speckled Green Fruitworm | USU”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Redbud Leaffolder | NC State Extension Publications”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “Carpenterworm | WSU Tree Fruit | Washington State University”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.
  • “EENY163/IN320: Melonworm, Diaphania hyalinata Linnaeus (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Crambidae)”. Accessed January 31, 2021. Link.


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