Giant Moths Are Swarming All Over Malaysia

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Malaysia is seeing an invasion of giant, friendly moths, putting it in the running for most moths against the moth-y cities of Singapore. 

The BBC reported today that thousands of the giant creatures have swarmed cities in Malaysia, and even disturbed a football match last week.

The Lyssa Zampa tropical moths, also called Laos brown butterflies, have a wingspan of about 6 inches, and though the swarming is unprecedented they are not new to the region. Biologist N Sivasothi told the BBC that "the moths are actually present during other times of the year but in very small numbers, so they are usually not noticed by people," adding that they emerge between April and August each year.

The insects have been around for weeks: 

According to ecologist Anuj Jain, the insects are attracted to light-filled cities. "Their tendency to emigrate in search of new uneaten host plants attracts these moths to light in urban city areas," he said. 

The moths are harmless – though asthma sufferers could be sensitive to hairs on their wings – but their presence is still kind of creepy. Ketiswary Nachiar, who lives in the Malaysian city of Kuantan, said that "they are kind of pretty but it is scary that they are so big," adding, "(I) always find them dead on the side of the buildings in the mornings." 

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Last month, Singaporeans also reported seeing swarms of moths.

AsiaOne reported on the friendly invasion in May, explaining why residents might be seeing so many moths this summer: 

The Tropical Swallowtail Moths, otherwise known as the Lyssa zampa, are "in season" now and a "population outbreak" is the reason for their recent abundance, said butterfly expert Khew Sin Khoon.... "Many flowers serve as a nectar source and it is well known that higher nectar abundance increases butterfly and moth populations," said NUS ecologist Anuj Jain, who also heads the butterfly interest group at Nature Society of Singapore. 

More than 800 moth spottings were recorded in Singapore. Thankfully, nobody in Malaysia or Singapore has reported seeing Mothra, yet. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.