Why moths matter more than butterflies?: Conservationist explains on National Moth Week

Shubhalaxmi Reddy says moths serve the ecosystem more than butterflies yet there is little interest to study them

July 24, 2020 02:51 pm | Updated 02:52 pm IST - Bengaluru

Conservationist Shubhalaxmi Reddy has a slightly dubious nickname. Moth Lady. But she accepts it with pride. She is among the pioneers and among the country’s few researchers who studies the winged insects.

Moths are, in a way, poorer cousins of butterflies. At least, that is how humans treat them. In the poem Joy and Pleasure, William Henry Davies likens moths to pleasure and butterflies to joy.

“Pleasure’s a Moth, that sleeps by day

And dances by false glare at night;

But Joy’s a Butterfly, that loves

To spread its wings in Nature’s light.”

According to Shubhalaxmi, this discrimination doesn’t stop with English poets. “Moths serve the ecosystem 10 times more than butterflies. Plus they are responsible for the thriving non-mulberry silk industry in India. Yet very little is known about them,” she says on National Moth Week (from July 18 to 26), an international citizen science project celebrating moths' beauty and ecological importance.

“Moths are also better pollinators than butterflies. Yet our knowledge about butterflies is PhD level and moths is just kindergarten level.”

Shubhalaxmi’s environmental non-profit organisation iNaturewatch Foundation has been organising a host of events for the National Moth Week. On July 25, naturalist Geetha Iyer will talk on a Facebook live session about her book, Satpada: Our World of Insects.

Visit this link for registrations.

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