What Do Moths Eat?

John Flannery/CC-BY-SA 2.0

When moths do eat, most of them sip nectar from flowers. Other moths feed from the damp or muddy areas around streams and puddles, which scientists believe are good sources of minerals. Others sip the liquids from fermenting or rotting fruit or are drawn to the wounds in trees that dribble sap. Some moths are also attracted to dung, feces or puddles of urine.

Some moths of the sphingidae family have heavy, hairy but colorful bodies and resemble hummingbirds. This is why some are called hummingbird moths. They even feed like hummingbirds and take nectar from the same types of flowers with long, flexible tongues. Other members of this family are called hawkmoths because they are powerful fliers. One, the death’s head hawkmoth, has such a strong proboscis that it can pierce the wax cells of beehives and steal the honey. Some types of these sphingidae moths fly during the day.

Some moths don’t eat in a traditional sense at all. Members of the drepanidae family, which are also called hook-tips, have reduced or absent tongues and can’t feed. Most silkworm moths also can’t feed. One of the most famous of these is the luna moth. This moth only lives about a week and doesn’t have a mouth.