Moth snapshots: Things you should know about the winged creatures

A Lyssa Zampa moth, or tropical swallowtail moth, seen in Toa Payoh on May 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
A Lyssa Zampa moth, or tropical swallowtail moth, seen in Toa Payoh on May 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 
The China-mark moth. -- PHOTO:  FOO JIT LEANG
A picture of the Genus Utetheisia which was submitted on iNaturalist. -- PHOTO: FOO JIT LEANG 

SINGAPORE - If you see a moth, take a picture of it.

The Butterfly Interest Group of the Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS) wants the public to send in photographs of moths they spot around the island.

So far, the group has collected more than 150 submissions since the programme was launched in July for a project to catalogue the types of moths in Singapore.

The project comes after the numerous sightings of the tropical swallowtail moth, Lyssa zampa, in April and May, when Netizens posted pictures of the palm-sized, dark-coloured insects spotted in various places around Singapore.

For the project, pictures of moths spotted and their locations can be submitted at and experts in the group will verify and identify the species.

Earlier this year, there were around 800 sightings of the Lyssa zampa, the large, dark-coloured moths with dramatic wings.

Here are five things you should know about the species:

1. With a wingspan of up to 16cm, it is Singapore's second largest moth after the atlas moth.

2. It is native to Singapore, living in forests here. It can also be found elsewhere in South-east Asia.

3. Although present here all year round, it is more commonly seen between May and August. Ecologists are unsure why. The last major flurry of sightings was in 2005.

4. Its caterpillars feed on the leaves of Endospermum, a tree from the rubber family.

5. The nocturnal moth is attracted to lights in urban areas. During the day, it rests in cool, shady places.

Here are four things to know about moths in general:

1. Most moths are nocturnal, while most butterflies are active during the day.

2. Butterflies have bulbous or more hook-like endings to their antennae, while moths have thread-like antennae.

3. Some moth larvae use stinging spines or hairs to defend themselves. These can cause painful skin reactions, allergic reactions or possibly even reactions in the lungs if hairs from the larvae have been shed in sufficient numbers.

4. The number of moth species globally is estimated to be about 300,000.

Source: Dr Roger Kendrick, director of Hong Kong-based independent wildlife consultancy C&R Wildlife

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