Question: Why Don’t Moths Smarten Up?

19May08

I was wondering why moths fly toward lightbulbs.  I was thinking it might be because they think that light-avoiding nocturnal predators won’t bother them there.  But I got this other answer from HowStuffWorks.com:

Moths use the moon to navigate. The moon doesn’t move out of position if the moth flies in a straight line. But street lamps are confusing. If the moth flies in a straight line, it thinks the lamp’s position has changed. As the moth continues, the lamp “moves” again. The moth flies in circles, moving closer and closer until it is trapped.

Which makes sense.  But now I have another question.  If light bulbs confuse every moth, why aren’t the populated world’s moths wiped out within the first few nights?  Or, by now, having had more than a century of electric light, why haven’t moths evolved to the point where only the smart ones are left, the ones who have figured out the difference between the moon and a lightbulb?

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