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Mothra | by antonsrkn
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Unidentified moth species - Buenaventura Reserve, Ecuador


Every night here in Ecuador our houselights attract dozens of moths to our windows and sometimes into our house. This provides some great photo opportunities on nights when I can't make it out for a hike. Despite the fact that the habitat surrounding the house is a bit degraded some interesting species still turn up here.


I didn't know why moths are attracted to lights but I did a bit of reading and turns out its a rather simple explanation. Since moths evolved into what they are a long time ago when they didn't have to contend with artificial lights, all there was at night was the moon and stars. Moths are programmed to use a behavior called transverse orientation which is moving at a constant angle to a light source. This works well when its a distant light source such as the moon because no matter how much ground the moth covers its going to be unable to cover enough to change the angle to the light source as the moon is so far away. However when the light source is nearby the angle changes as the moth moves in relation to it. This confuses it and in an attempt to correct its path it ends up flying into the light source.

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Taken on December 30, 2014