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Why Do Moths Fly in the Wind and Rain During the Winter Months?

Why Do Moths Fly in the Wind and Rain

During The Winter Months?

We are getting through the dark Winter months and the birds are beginning to sing – bless them. Despite our use and abuse of nature, I am always so grateful for the things I see every day and I am humbled by their ability to survive.
The other night I watched a hare elegantly lolloping across the Common in the moonlight, I treasured that moment as if it was a special gift. This is what nature does for us, it ‘gives’.
Recently when returning home in the most appalling weather in the dark, I saw small, silvery moths flying out into the rain and wind.
How and why do they do this, I wondered?
We have 2,000 species of moths in the UK and with that huge number it would make sense that most species of moths would be undertaking their life cycle when they have the most chance of success.
Some have developed the ability to be out in the dead of Winter when conditions would not suit most species, that is easy enough to understand, but how does something so small and delicate manage to fly amongst rain drops that are bigger than the moth itself?
Well it is all about the wings! These tiny venerable moths have wings constructed to dissipate and repel water droplets in a second.
If you think about the proportions of a drop of water and a moth’s wing, you will come to the conclusion that a water droplet should be fatal if a moth was hit by it, but it is not.
This is due to the impressive surface of the moths’ wings. These have small, fine hairs (scales) that act like fine needles when the water droplets hit them. They prick the surface of the droplet to break it up quickly into many small parts. These tiny droplets can only transmit a small amount of energy and are quickly repelled from the surface. This is not always successful but for some moths it is worth the risk, as other moths and predators are scarce in numbers in these adverse weather conditions. Did you know there are also some aquatic moths? But that is for another time.

Athene English

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