A Face Only a Moth’er Could Love

Have you ever wanted to see an alien? If you do, then I have news for you – you need look no further than your own back porch. These “aliens” come flying out of the night, landing silently, and often unnoticed, on porches all throughout the summer. What are they? Moths.

This summer, I became interested in moth-watching, or “mothing” (hence the term, “moth’er”). Most people ignore moths because they are “dull.” This is not necessarily true, but bright wing patterns and colors aren’t what make them look like they came from another world. No, it is another feature that is often ignored on butterflies and moths alike: the face.

The face of a Locust Underwing Moth.

The face of a Locust Underwing Moth.

  As a nature photographer, I always try to take pictures of my subjects from an interesting perspective. It is said that bird photos taken at the eye-level of the bird are better than photos taken from above. “Why shouldn’t it be the same for moths?,” I wondered. So I positioned my camera eye level with the moth I had been photographing from above, and the result was extraordinary (and strange). Below is a photo of a Tobacco Budworm Moth from above:Tobacco Budworm Moth

And here is what it looks like from eye-level:

Tobacco Budworm Moth

The wide, staring eyes, the “handlebar mustache” growing from its forehead, and the appearance of a “mouth” created by the proboscis make this moth look like it came from another planet instead of a cocoon. Most people look at these face-shots and do not realize they are looking at a moth.

Depending on the gender and species of the moth, its face may sport feathery antennae or rainbow colors. It might have bright red tufts of “hair” on its legs or so much “hair” the face is barely visible at all! Just as the range of colors in butterflies may seem endless, just as endless is the variation of moth faces.

Gypsy MothSmall-Eyed SphinxBoxwood Leaftier MothLarge Tolype

Top: Gypsy Moth, Small-Eyed Sphinx.

Bottom: Boxwood Leaftier, Large Tolype.


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