Do Moths Drink Water? (Answered)

You might occasionally encounter a moth in your garden or lawn. Some will wander and find their way into your home to seek refuge from predators. Others will come looking for food and shelter.

But have you ever wondered what they survive on as adults? Will they drink water like other insects? Well, some will sip nectar and fruit sap to utilize the nutrients in the fruits. They will not literally ingest water like other animals.

With a few exceptions, some moth species eat and drink only particular fluids to get energy or maintain water balance in their bodies.

Read: Do Moths Come Out During the Day?

This article examines whether moths drink water and if they need it to survive.

Do All Moths Drink Water?

Moths are insects. And insects, like humans, need water to help digestion and regulate other bodily functions. But will all moths drink water? Even with some missing the necessary mouthparts? Well, not all moths drink water.

Some moths become adults without the necessary mouthparts to eat or drink water. A good example is the Luna moth. These types without mouths will only depend on the food eaten at the caterpillar stage. Most adult moths you see today do not literarily drink water and eat food. They only live for about a week to find mates and not food.

However, the other few that drink water, like the hummingbird hawk moth, have a long tongue scientifically known as a proboscis which they use to suck fruit juice and nectar from their favorite trees. Typically, they won’t drink water like we do or like how other animals do. Instead, they utilize the water in the nectar.

What do Moths Eat?

First and foremost, you must know that moths (not all) ingest liquid foods, not solids. They have tub-shaped tongues known as proboscis, allowing them to suck light-density viscid liquids. These moths will feed on nectar, rotting fruit juices, fluids from animal feces, and tree sap.

Those without mouths, regardless, stop eating leaves and fruits immediately before building a cocoon to pupate.

Even so, the amount of food moths eat is small. Most will use their vicious appetite during the caterpillar stage, losing interest after becoming mature adults.

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There are also other moth species known as the clothes moth, with two subdivisions operating similarly. The casemaking moth and the webbing moth. The larvae feed on fibers and build silken cases to pupate for a few weeks, depending on the weather. The larvae feed on wool, upholstered fabric, leather, and dust. Afterward, they will not eat again.

Here is a detailed video talking more about what moths eat.

Do Moths Drink Sugar Water?

Yes. But only a few species with a tongue will drink sugar water. However, it will be in nectar, sap, or specific fruit juices. The nectar contains sugar ingredients, which are necessary during reproduction and growth.

Other moths without a tongue or functioning mouthparts do not consume anything. They will solely depend on the food ingested while at the caterpillar stage. If by chance you encounter a nectar-sucking moth, it is probably ingesting essential nutrients that will help it fly better or look for a potential mate.

Most female moths also require enough nutrients and energy for reproduction. Male moths, on the contrary, need enough salt to pass it on to their female counterparts during mating. So, they drink different fluids and convert them into nutrients in their bodies.

If you have moths in a butterfly enclosure, you must understand when and how to feed them. You can find all the necessary steps below.

How do You Give Moth Water?

Moths require tiny amounts of water to boost essential body functions. In the wild, hawk moths use their antennae instinctively to locate sap on trees and nectar on flowers. Nevertheless, you must manually prepare a solution similar to the nectar and feed the moth. You should also understand when to feed it.

Here are the steps involved.

  1. Gather the necessary ingredients. Usually, natural honey because it has nutritional ingredients like amino acids and proteins. But you can also use anything with natural sugar in it.

Tip: Artificial sweeteners do not have nutritional value. So never use them.

  1. Dilute the honey with enough water on a plate because raw honey will be sticky, and a moth will not suck it.
  2. Place a paper towel on a plate and let the mixture get absorbed in the towel to allow the moth to walk comfortably on the plate without sticking while sucking the substrate.
  3. Gently hold the moth, ensuring you do not apply pressure on its wings
  4. Use a toothpick or sharp object to roll out the moth’s tongue. Moths usually have a hard time locating food on their own. So, guiding it would help it locate the solution you prepared earlier.
  5. Extend the proboscis gently and place the moth on the paper towel soaked in the solution. Slowly release its wings as soon as you notice it drinking the solution.
  6. The moth will stop sucking the liquid once it is full. Repeat the procedure the following day or even after two days, depending on the moth’s size and state.
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Precaution: Always ensure the substrate is not sticky because a moth might get its wings or legs stuck and drown.

What do Moths Drink?

A few species with functioning mouth parts and proboscis require nectar, tree sap, silk, and honeydew to give them nutrients and increase their energy levels. But generally, they do not require a lot of fluids like other insects.

The hummingbird hawk-moth is the best example of a moth species with a proboscis (tongue). It feeds on leaves as a caterpillar and sips sap and nectar from honeysuckle and red valerian flowers as an adult.

The blood-sucking moth is another interesting species. It sucks blood from animals and humans to absorb all the essential nutrients required. The male adult dines on animal blood. It will occasionally land on your skin whenever it gets the chance. Furthermore, they use ingenious ways to land on an unexpected victim and gorge their tongue deep into the skin, sucking blood for up to 20 minutes.

Young moths (caterpillars) of most species feed on plant sap.

What do Baby Moths Eat and Drink?

Baby moths are caterpillars that become adults after emerging from the cocoon. The life cycle includes the egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Young moths (in the form of caterpillars) will nibble plants, flowery leaves, or fabric (for the clothes moth).

What the moth eats will depend on the particular species. Most plant-consuming moths feed on their favorite leaves as caterpillars, while carpet and clothes moth larvae feed on fibre.

A hummingbird hawk-moth is a good example of a moth with proboscis. Adult Hummingbirds from the cocoon instantly begin feeding on nectar from their favourite flowers.

Also, you should always remember that adult moths feed less than caterpillars because their primary function is to mate and reproduce. No wonder they will only live for about a week or ten days before dying.

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Almost all moth caterpillars are destructive, feeding extensively on different things to store enough food to be converted into fat later when they pupate into adults.

Do Moths Drink Blood?

Yes. But not all drink blood. The vampire moth is one example of a moth that drinks blood. The male vampire moth sucks animal and human blood using its adept proboscis. A male vampire moth will typically behave like a mosquito.

Vampire moths are nocturnal and depend on the dark to stalk prey. When a vampire moth finds its target, it will land on the skin (without the host noticing) and prepare to gorge its snout into the skin.

The tongue is adapted enough to hook itself deep inside the skin to suck enough blood from the host without falling off. The proboscis works as a straw, sucking enough blood within a few minutes.

Luckily, the male vampire moth’s bite is harmless. Although it leaves an irritating sour red mark on the skin. The female vampire moths do not have any interest in blood. They prefer feeding on nectar and fruit sap.

Do Moths Need Water to Survive?

Yes. Moths need water to survive. But not like other large insects. They need it in small quantities. Also, moths will not drink it as humans do. With proboscis/tongues, they will suck different fluids from various plants. The fluids from nectar contain small amounts of water, which will absorb into the moth’s body to help normal body functioning.

Caterpillars are also great feeders. They eat several plant leaves containing sap, including honeydew sap. The sap will absorb into its system to help it grow, and the rest will be stored as food before the next metamorphosis stage.

Other moth species without mouths do not spend much time looking for food or water. They will solely depend on the food and little water they took as caterpillars. Furthermore, they only have a limited period to find mates and reproduce before dying.

Conclusion

Water is essential to sustain life in all living organisms, including moths. These incredible and versatile insects find ways to ingest water into their bodies. Most will suck plant sap and utilize the juices inside their bodies. Other moths without mouthparts do not require water or food to survive.

After reading this article, you now know understand what moths eat & drink and how to feed them.

About Stephanie

Stephanie is fond of doing all backyard-related work at her home. She loves to take sunbathe and do a barbecue in her free time. She often shares practical tips and friendly expert advice on everything relating to home and yard on this blog. When she is not writing, she goes camping with her husband and little kids.