When lepidopterist Andrei Sourakov from the Florida Museum of Natural History stumbled across dozens of glossy black Idia moth (Idia lubricalis) entering the hollow of a giant southern red oak, he was stunned at what he found inside.
Not usually the gathering type, glossy black Idia moths, like many of moths and butterflies, spend their time alone. However, when Sourakov spotted around a 100 individuals entering the hollow of the giant tree last year, upon his return this July he was met by the spectacle of around 400 of the moths. It’s relatively unclear why these moths gather in such large numbers however, Sourakov theorises it could be a defensive “safety of numbers” strategy. With so many moths in one place, this defensive strategy does not protect each individual, but protects the populations, as there is too many moths for predators to each them all.
Sourakov’s footage is believed to be the first known example of moth congregations and displaying this roosting behaviour. Monarch butterflies however, do enjoy an annual meet up in their millions for a migration to Mexico during the winter.
For more information about science and technology, visit our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the latest digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!
Other articles you might like: