A horde of moths has invaded a small French town, leaving its residents fed up and unable to walk out at night.
The town of Oyonnax, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France, has been host to thousands and thousands of boxwood moths for the past few weeks, according to locals.
Footage, filmed by Gaelle Lecompte earlier this month, shows a ‘cloud’ of the little critters sticking to windows and flying around the streetlights.
Check it out:
The moths are particularly concentrated in our village – especially at night because of these streetlights.
Box moths, and especially the caterpillars before they become moths, can be particularly destructive to gardens and hedges. Native to East Asia, the insects have only appeared in Europe in the last 10 years.
According to LiveScience, moths are attracted to unnatural light sources because their light throws off the insects’ internal navigation systems.
Jerry Powell, an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who specialises in moths, said:
The thinking is that they become dazzled by the light and are somehow attracted.
Speaking about the theory that moths used to use the moon to navigate, he added:
I’m dubious of the idea that they’re using moonlight as an orienting device in the first place. That would probably only be done by species that migrate — in that process they might use the moon in some way. But that would not explain why the 50 or 70 percent of moths that are small and don’t migrate would also use moonlight to navigate.
In the 1970s, a new theory was put forward by Philip Callahan, an entomologist working at the US Department of Agriculture.
Callahan discovered that the infrared light emitted by a candle flame happens to contain a few of the exact same frequencies of light given off by female moth pheromones. Therefore, male moths could be attracted to candles as they are tricked into thinking the light is coming from a female sending out sex signals.
Last year, a strange moth-worm hybrid insect was found in Australia and Indonesia, leaving people stumped as to what it was or could be.
Footage of the strange insect, filmed in Indonesia and uploaded to Facebook by a profile by the name of Gandik, has been viewed more than 44 million times.
Posted by Gandik on Thursday, 19 October 2017
The insect is actually a Creatonotos gangis moth and those unusual tentacles you see are scent organs.
These scent organs – or eversible coremata as they’re technically known – emit pheromones in order for the moth to attract mates.
The organs are inflated with either air or blood, to make them larger and therefore spread more pheromones about the place.
Though we know why these moths have their intimidating, hairy, scent organs, it has never been definitively proven as to why moths are attracted to artificial light. Though many theories are credible, none have been able to conclusively give a reason why, meaning the phrase ‘like a moth to a flame’ remains one of life’s mysteries.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.