Are Moths Dangerous to Humans?

Are Moths Dangerous to Humans?

Moths and butterflies are potentially dangerous to people in one context: eating them. While most butterflies and moths are likely non-toxic to hungry humans, a few species — like the familiar monarch butterfly (Family Nymphalidae) — feed on poisonous or unpalatable plants as larvae. Monarch caterpillars feed largely on milkweed, which contains cardenolides — poisons that act on heart muscle. The insects store these poisons in their body, and if they are eaten, the predator will likely find them distasteful and potentially sickening. Because of the bold orange and black coloration of the butterflies, predators will often remember that they tasted bad, and therefore ignore them in the future. Despite the fact that some moths and butterflies have these sequestered toxins, butterflies are eaten by humans in some parts of Mexico and Asia.



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