moths sense heat?

Martin Harvey martin at
Sat Jul 31 05:13:34 EDT 1999

Moths must sense heat to some degree, as they do not become active until
temperatures are high enough for flight or mating etc. Some species at least
are very choosy about where they lay eggs, requiring precise
micro-habitat/micro-climate conditions, and it is likely that temperature is
one of the cues used to detect the best spots (and larvae can be very
temperature-sensitive). However, adult moths do not seem to recognise
extreme heat as a danger, given their propensity for flying into flames or
hot Tilley lamps. They will also land on very hot mercury vapour lamp bulbs,
and some at least will quickly drop to the ground after actually touching
down on the bulb. I guess you would need to put out a heat source that
doesn't produce any light to test things further.
Martin Harvey

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