Giant Moths Have Descended on Malaysia, And No One Knows Why

Giant moths are making a mass appearance in Southeast Asia

Lyssa Zampa
Bernard Dupont

The moths, Lyssa Zampa, are startlingly large. Their wingspans can grow up to six inches. They aren't poisonous, and they aren't known to carry diseases. But, in Malaysia and Singapore, there are a lot of them—an unusually heavy presence. There are so many giant moths swarming parts of these countries that thousands of them managed to disrupt a soccer match.

For the most part, they’ve been welcomed as curiosities by people living in the region. But there are superstitions about the moths, as Malaysian newspaper The Star reports

“Old people say someone is visiting,” said Olivia Airine Sue, alluding to the myth that moths were physical manifestations of departed loved ones.

“Not a good omen,” said user Tom Said, while Vivien Wong wrote that it “must be a sign that bad things are going to happen soon”.

The moths usually appear in the summer, but rarely in such large numbers. They haven't been active en masse like this for almost a decade now, since 2005

It's clear that the moths are attracted to the lights of the city, and but the reason for this year's influx is still a mystery. Some experts think that the large numbers this year are due to a lack of predators and parasites. Others say that weather conditions this year might have been particularly good for caterpillars.  

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