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Dr Robert Hoare, of Landcare Research NZ Ltd, introduces us to the world of moths. He describes their place in the ecosystem and how important they are to maintaining bird populations and their role as recyclers.

Points of interest
Butterflies and moths form the insect order Lepidoptera. Their features are compared in our Butterflies science story, Differences between butterflies and moths.


Moths are quite important in the ecosystem. Probably one of their major roles is pollinating plants. Without pollinators, of course, plants can't set seed, and moths are known to pollinate quite a lot of flowers in New Zealand. And also both the adult moths and the caterpillars are important food for our native birds. If you got rid of all the moths in New Zealand, then our bird populations would absolutely plummet. Another role that they have is that many of the caterpillars of New Zealand moths actually feed in the leaf litter, in the dead leaves on the forest floor, and they help to recycle that leaf litter and it goes through their guts and comes out the other end in a more nutritious form that can then be reabsorbed by the growing plants of the forest. So that's an important role as recyclers of nutrients if you like.

Amanda Baird
Landcare Research New Zealand Limited
Nufarm NZ Ltd
Jenny Parke
Rachael Sowerby, Sirtrack


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