A moth will gravitate toward a flame, even if it means he might burn and die. Chances are, he will. There are many theories about why they do this, but none satisfactorily explain this seemingly suicidal mission.
One theory suggests this bizarre behavior is merely a navigating instinct ill adapted to artificial light. The moth will use moonlight to help guide his way, and has successfully done so for centuries. His inability to discern light sources is what appears to be the problem. A big problem, I’d say.
The moth can’t tell the difference between natural light and artificial light. Light emanating from fire is devastatingly different than the light coming from the moon. The moth can be drawn into a flame, become disoriented, and subsequently drawn in so close he catches on fire, and burns. Kaput!
I can’t say I feel bad for the moth, but I definitely think it’s an unfortunate circumstance to have to be propelled into. One would think survival of the fittest would have taken care of this dilemma by now. Apparently not.
I’m grateful for having been born a human, rather than a moth, until I’m humbled by the reality that humans, too, are at the mercy of an exponentially progressive technological world. Just because we were the genius behind artificial light, does not makes us immune to its interference.
Artificial light interferes with our sleep rhythm. Most people aren’t aware that sleepiness is triggered by the hormone melatonin. Melatonin levels go up as night’s darkness sets in; ideally. The problem arises when we interfere with the effects of darkness by using light bulbs, candles, etc.
Rather than allowing heightened melatonin levels to navigate us into sleep and dreamland, we remain awake beyond the hours we are intended to. Some see the invention of artificial light as a contribution to society – I myself see it as a dilemma. It makes as much sense to me as the moth using a flame to navigate by.
While we aren’t spiraling into the pit of flames, we are still burning out at a rate yet to be assessed. We stress our bodies and psyche by staying up well past our bedtime – then we crash and burn. Sizzle; sizzle, just like the moth.
My criticism of the moth’s flight into flames is matched by my criticism of the rate at which we are capable of burning the candles at both ends. Funny how a lot of terms used to describe the demise of the moth can also characterize an overworked person.
So what’s a human to do, with so much to do, and so little time to do it? Whew! Burn the midnight oil ‘til the wee hours of the night? Have more compassion for the moth? Or, acquire more mothballs in order to protect the fine garments we are able to afford by staying up late?
I know, so many questions and things to consider – I hope you don’t lose any sleep over it.