MOTH, the popular name of all the insects included in the section Nocturna of the order Lepidoptera (q.v.). They forated the genus Plialtena of Linnus, but are now distributed into many genera and families, the species Mug extremely munerous. them are the very largest Lepidoptera, and also the smallest. They are distinguished from hawk-moths, and from most of the butterflies, by their bristle-shaped antennae, tapering from base to apex. The antenna: are frequently feathered or pectinated, especially in the males. The proboscis is generally similar to that of butterflies; but there are some. groups of moths in which it is merely rudimentary, and these are sup posed to take no food after they pass from the larva state. The thorax is generally shorter and more robust than in butterflies; the tibiae of the legs often bear a kind of spur; the wings are held either in a horizontal or in an inclined position when at rest; or, as in many of the smaller moths, are wrapped around the body. The two wings of the same side are generally hooked together in repose by means of bristles on the margin. The females of a few species are wingless.—Moths are generally nocturnal, although to this rule there are a few exceptions. They often exhibit great richness in beauty of colors, although in brightness of color they are not generally equal to butterflies. Their food is similar to that of butterflies.—They lay great numbers of eggs, which exhibit varieties of form
and color as great as those of the insects themselves. Their caterpillars are more widely various in form and characters than those of the butterflies; differing from each other in the number of their legs, and in horns, protuberances, caudal appendages, hairy covering, etc. Some are social both in the larva and chrysalis state, forming, on their entering the latter state, very curious nests. The chrysalis of a moth is never angular nor fur nished with protuberances, and is generally enveloped in a silken cocoon, pretty close and compact: although some moth chrysalids are found in a mere space filled with threads which cross each other in various directions. Silk-worm (q.v) moths are among the insects most useful to man; but moths in general are regarded by him as injurious, the larva of many feeding:on leaves.Of various -kinds, and often destroying valuable crops; and the larva of some small species proving very destructive to clothes, books, etc. The largest and most splendid moths inhabit tropical countries. Some of the most interesting and important kinds of tooth are noticed in separate articles. Notwithstand ing a popular dislike of moths, observation of their habits and of the richness of color of many of them, is a favorite pursuit of naturalists.