Aquatic Moths: Swimming With The Fishes


Hi Guys. I am Trisha with Insectopia here
to talk to you about an aquatic moth. Aquatic meaning that it spends a part of its life
underwater. What is really cool is that the moths can swim underwater too!
There are at least 49 species of aquatic moths in the United States and they are all a little
different. This number was found in the Aquatic Insects of North America book. Shout out to
Dr. Merritt, Dr. Cummins, and Dr. Berg if you are listening, you guys are awesome.
In the case of the aquatic moths, it makes the most sense to start our life cycle with
the eggs. The eggs are laid underwater on rocks or aquatic vegetation and take 6-14
days to hatch. The caterpillars that we are going to talk
about today create a case to protect themselves. They will cut leaf pieces and use silk to
keep these pieces of leaves together. They will carry around this case for the entirety
of their nymphal life. They also will feed on aquatic vegetation. The caterpillar pupates inside of its case
by spinning a silk cocoon and attaches itself to a rock or plant material. When the pupa is fully developed, the adult
moth will emerge. It will swim using both its legs and wings to the surface of the water
where it will crawl out of the water to dry its wings and find a mate. This is where it starts to boggle minds, the
mated female moth will dive back down into the water where she will lay her eggs. Her
hind two pairs of legs are modified into oars to help her swim. She also has waterproof
hairs, which are called hydrofuge hairs, on her wings and her body that will hold air
around her creating a plastron. A plastron is a bubble of air that dissolved oxygen from
the water will diffuse into. She can breathe underwater using this air bubble! Let’s say this another way. This is a person.
This person has lots of long hairs on their face and these hairs are waterproof. There
are so many hairs that they are able to protect this face from water. There is dissolved oxygen
occurring in water. This air bubble will actually pull the oxygen out of the water and replenish
itself! If we could utilize this technology, there would be no need for oxygen tanks while
scuba diving! The moth can actually crawl back to the
surface of the water and fly away because she was completely surrounded by air the whole
time that she was underwater. Although, most females will stay underwater, lay all of their
eggs, and then become fish food. Thank you for listening! If you have any questions
about aquatic moths or a thought on what it would be like to be able to both breathe underwater
and fly let us know in the comment section below! Make sure to like, comment, and subscribe
for more videos like this one. I will be posting videos frequently. Come and check out our
next video on the New Zealand glowworm.

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