Types of Moths: What is the Most Dangerous Moth?

Moths are known for having relatively large wingspans and their resemblance to butterflies, as well as their attraction to artificial light. However, one of the special things about these winged creatures is their significant role in the ecosystem’s food web, serving as prey for birds, mammals, and other insects. Moths belong to an insect group that includes all members of the order Lepidoptera that does not include butterflies.

There are different types of moths, ranging from varying colors and sizes. In addition, there are also some moth species that are harmful due to their poison. Although adult moths do not bite, the larvae of the giant silkworm moth and flannel moth caterpillars are known for their painful sting. Furthermore, most types of moths among the Lepidoptera are only poisonous when they are eaten, including by humans.


Types of Moths

Types of Moths: What is the Most Dangerous Moth?
(Photo : Photo by Frankie Mish on Unsplash)

Moths are sometimes mistaken for butterflies because of their physical resemblance, as mentioned earlier. However, there are some moth species that are distinguishable and more beautiful than butterflies. Below are some of the types of moths, with a size that can range from small to large species that even surpass the size of a human hand:

  •  Comet moth
  •  Lime hawk-moth
  •  Twin-spotted sphinx moth
  •  Oleander hawk-moth
  •  Io moth
  •  Garden tiger moth
  •  Galium sphinx moth
  •  Rosy maple moth
  •  False tiger moth
  •  Cecropia moth

These moths are only a fraction of the overall members of the Lepidoptera population. This is because there are approximately 160,000 moth species worldwide; this is significantly higher compared to the 17,500 species of butterflies, according to the Smithsonian Institution. In the United States, there are almost 11,000 species of moths found nationwide, where there are even sightings of rare moth species.

In 2022, a rare specimen of an atlas moth with a wingspan of 10 inches was found in the US for the first time. The massive insect was reported in the state of Washington after a professor from the University of Washington reported the giant moth in Bellevue. The atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is said to be one of the world’s largest moths and is native to Asia, in areas from India to the Philippines and Indonesia.

Also Read: Butterfly and Moth Update: 150,000 Known Species on Earth, More To Find

Most Dangerous Moth

While there are beautiful and colossal types of moths, there are also some considered to be dangerous. According to experts, moths in general do not pose a danger to humans. Yet, some moth species contain toxic or irritating scales or hairs. These thin strands can lead to skin irritation or even respiratory complications.

In the taxonomic database of these insects, the most dangerous moth whose name stands out among the rest is the Lonomia, a genus which consists of venomous moths from South America. In a 2023 study published in the journal PLOS, researchers reported that caterpillars from the said genus are responsible for some fatal envenomation of humans in South America.

Related Article: Butterflies and Moths at the Brink: Climate Change Pushes Species to the Edge

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