Malaysia swarmed by giant moths

Jun 19, 2014

By Heather Chen


Swarms of giant moths have descended on Malaysia, invading homes and even disrupting a national football match.

Thousands of the furry insects, with a wing span of up to 16cm (6in), interrupted a semi-finals match at the Darul Makmur Stadium last week.

Over 800 sightings were also reported in neighbouring Singapore last month, sparking intense online debate.

The Lyssa Zampa tropical moth, which is also known as the Laos brown butterfly, is native to South East Asia.

Biology lecturer N Sivasothi said that while the moth sightings appear to be “unprecedented”, it is not a new phenomenon.

“The moths are actually present during other times of the year but in very small numbers, so they are usually not noticed by people,” Mr Sivasothi said, adding that the creatures typically emerge between April and August every year.

Ecologist Anuj Jain said moths’ use of light for navigation often causes them to head to built-up areas.

“Their tendency to emigrate in search of new uneaten host plants attracts these moths to light in urban city areas,” he said.

Experts said that while people suffering from asthma may be sensitive to hairs on their wings, the nocturnal creatures do not pose any threat.

8 comments on “Malaysia swarmed by giant moths

  • I remember, some years ago, a plague of ladybirds (ladybugs, USA), descending on London. Conditions had been just right. Normally I regard ladybirds as friends because they eat aphids. but the lack of aphids in central London meant they were landing on people and taking bites ! It wasn’t unusual to find one or two in your pint of beer !

    In Malaysia, perhaps there will be hungry predators willing to diminish the numbers of the moths ? Or will their natural predators be taken by surprise and overwhelmed as is often the case with cicadas. From Wikipedia

    Some species of cicada also have an unusual defense mechanism to protect themselves from predation, known as predator satiation: because so many emerge at once, the number of cicadas in any given area exceeds the amount predators can eat; all available predators are thus satiated, and the remaining cicadas can breed in peace.


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    Kimberly says:

    ?’Swarmed by’ is acceptable when ‘swarm’ is used as a verb which is the case here. But really.. you read all articles and felt the need to post on grammar usage? You may be in the wrong place. English Lit is down the hall.

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  • What nature can do, humans can copy!

    Esa’s satellite Swarm launch to map Earth’s magnetism

    Swarm mission makes magnetic maps

    Europe’s Swarm space mission has begun making maps of Earth’s magnetic field.

    Data just released shows how the field generated in the planet’s liquid outer core varies in strength over the course of a few months.

    Swarm’s early assessment appears to support the prevailing view that this magnetic cloak in general is weakening.

    Many experts believe it heralds a flip in the poles, where north becomes south and vice versa, although it would take thousands of years to complete.

    The European Space Agency’s Swarm mission was launched last November.

    It comprises three satellites that are equipped with a variety of instruments – the key ones being state-of-the-art magnetometers that measure field strength and direction.

    They fly in a configuration that offsets one platform from the other two.

    The intention is that this should provide a three-dimensional view of the field, and make it easier to tease apart its various components.

    In the release this week from Esa, we get a view that is dominated by the contribution (95%) from the core. But eventually, Swarm will have the sensitivity to describe magnetism from other, more subtle sources, including that generated by the movement of our salt-water oceans.

    It should be interesting to compare the Earth’s magnetic fields, with the routes taken by various migrating shoals, flocks, and swarms.

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