MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Do moths have offactory senses? Are they killed or repelled by moth balls?

Area: General Biology
Posted By: Bob Johnson, staff programmer, Insect Acoustics Laboratory, USDA ARS MAVE Research Center
Date: Mon Sep 22 11:56:19 1997
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 874784792.Gb
Moths have an extremely sensitive sense of smell that plays a 
major role in influencing their behavior, from finding food to 
reproduction.  They sense airborne chemicals with their antennae, 
which are covered with very tiny structures known as "sensilla".  
The sensilla contain olfactory nerves which are specialized for 
various types of chemicals. For example, some nerves may be 
specialized for detection of sex pheromones, while others may 
detect particular foods.

Moth balls work primarily by killing moths and their larvae.  They are 
made of chemicals (e.g. napthalene) which vaporize and permeate the 
storage area in which they are used.  They must be used in a closed area 
or the vapors will not reach a high enough concentration to be effective.  

The University of Kentucky has a good WWW page with more information on 
protection of stored clothing from moths, and for more information 
on insects in general, a good place to start is Gordon Ramel's 
Entomology Page. 

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