Where Do Peppered Moths Live? – Habitat, Reproduction, Predators, & Facts

The peppered moth, also known as Biston betularia, is a butterfly that only emerges out of dawn or dusk.

They are generally white with black sprinkles. However, there are some that are totally dark. They are active from May to August, and their larvae can be discovered beginning in August.

But regardless of their color and other body features, let’s discuss where do peppered moths live?

Peppered moths mostly live in Europe (especially England), North America, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Nepal, S. Korea, N.korea, Japan, China, Russia, and Mongolia). They love inhabiting trees, pastures, parks, and gardens. 

Peppered Moth Appearance

The body of the peppered moth is stocky, and its wings are long and thin.

As discussed above, their wings are white; however, they have black markings on them. Additionally, there are a few noticeable black cross lines on each wing.

A mix of brown, black, and grey may also be used to create the peppered pattern or spotted appearance.

The severity of the black pattern differs; the lighter color peppered moth has very faint black spots, whereas the darker-colored pepper moth, known as the melanic form, has extensive black spots.

In certain melanic forms, the black spotting is so severe that it gives the impression that the wing is black with white spots scattered over it.

In contrast to the adult moths, the caterpillars can change color between emerald and brown to blend in with the tree branches they are trying to hide behind.

Peppered Moths Reproduction

Male peppered moths spend their time flying about in quest of a suitable mate. The female peppered moths release chemicals to attract the males’ attention; after that, mating occurs.

Next, peppered moth females deposit around 1800-2200 eggs, which begin their development during the warm summer months.

The caterpillars, also known as larvae, appear like twigs or tree branches when they are first hatched.

In order to survive the winter, the insect larvae must transform into their dormant state, known as the pupal stage (Pupae are cocoon-like structures).

During the months of March and April, the pupae become exposed, and a new adult peppered moth arises from within them.

Peppered Moth Communication

It is not well understood how these moths interact with one another. Since they are very active at night seeking mating mates, their eyesight is strong and suited to night vision. In addition, this species of moth is not very flashy or noticeable in any way.

Peppered Moth Predators

Scrub jays, nuthatches, and European robins are some of the species that eat peppers. By flying at night and sleeping during the day, peppered moths, like most other species of moth, are able to escape being eaten by predators that hunt during the day.

Along with all these adaptations, the peppered moth has extra camouflage that helps it disguise itself from predators. The bark of the trees in which they make their homes is pale in color and covered with numerous little lichens.

Lichens are creatures that are composed of fungi, algae, and bacteria. The peppered moths’ wings have a strikingly reminiscent design of lichens.

Peppered Moth and Evolution

The peppered moths serve as an exceptional case of evolution in incredible natural selection and industrial melanism.

Before the beginning of the Modern-day Industry Revolution in England, most of these moths appeared white. They avoid being eaten by birds and other predators because of their ability to blend in nicely with the lichen that coated the tree trunks.

But, in the 1840s, a new darker color peppered moth form was discovered in England, and ever since that time, the number of peppered moths belonging to this dark form has risen significantly.

The occurrence of this phenomenon was attributed by scientists to an instance of mutation that was brought about as a result of the beginning of the Modern-day Industry Revolution in the UK.

Scientists believed that the phenomena might be explained by natural selection, which would explain how the DNA of the moths altered with time to take on a body coloring that would help them blend in with tree trunk colors.

Do peppered moths live in trees?

Yes, peppered moths live mostly in 02trees.  During the day, they frequently perch on the tree trunks. The bark of the trees in which they make their homes is pale in color and covered with numerous little lichens. The peppered moths’ wings have a strikingly reminiscent design of lichens.

What caused the peppered moth to change?

The sooty air pollution that was created by industrialization and residential coal fires caused the peppered moth to change color.

How do peppered moths spend the winter?

Peppered moths have a tough time surviving in cold temperatures. In order to survive the harsh winter, peppered moth larvae transform into pupae, often known as cocoons. The pupae emerge as new adult moths somewhere between the months of April and May. At the end of the summer, these adults will reproduce and then expire.

Featured image Via – dotun55@flickr.com