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Much-maligned moth harmless and useful

Many people still seem to believe that all moths eat clothes. That could hardly be further from the truth.

In Northern Ireland, we have 500 species of large moth, many of which are larger than (and as beautiful as) their siblings, the butterflies. All of these eat only foliage at their larval (caterpillar) stage.

We also have 695 small species of moth, about 1cm or less in size. Six of these will eat wool, or cotton, but not man-made fabrics, or silk, so the threat from moths is very small indeed.

Furthermore, not only are most moths harmless, but they are very useful. All the adults are good pollinators, which is important for the production of most of our fruit and vegetables. Also, the adult females lay many eggs, thus producing lots of juicy caterpillars for the birds and their young.

They, thus, form an important part of the natural food chain with the human race at the top. So, please, do not kill moths. If they are in your house, help them outside. They are gentle and harmless. Better still, join Butterfly Conservation. Visit www.butterfly-conservation.org and help to conserve these important creatures.

c shaw

Belfast

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