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Comment: My friend was in El Salvadore when she found a giant
moth/butterfly thing on the wall. A maid quickly squashed it saying that
these animals have a dust on their wings, that if you get in your eye, it
can make you blind. Is this true?

Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Deck the Malls

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I'd say it's potentially plausible:

Given that there are at least 10,000 different butterfly and moth species in South and Central America, and given that many of them produce toxic chemicals as a defense mechanism during their caterpillar stages, it's seems likely that there could be a scenario where a butterfly/moth were smashed up, and the smasher rubbed the remnants into his/her eye, and the chemicals caused severe eye irritation which (if untreated) could have led to blindness, well, I can see how this rumor could have gotten started.

I'll let the Snopsian entymologists here pick a good species to extrapolate this post further.

Is here no telephone?

Posts: 323 | From: Brooklyn, NY | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
have yourself a Merry Little Galaxy
The First USA Noel

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Damn 'old wives' tales' threads - they keep bringing back stuff I was told as a kid!

I do recall being told not to handle moths in general (not particular species), because if you got the 'dust' from their wings into your eyes, it would hurt you. The 'dust' is just their wing scales flaking off.

It's suggested here that moth scales can be a potential allergen and eye irritant - though the scales are not toxic in themselves.

Little Galaxy

I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains - that's why I live in Melbourne, where it always bloody rains.

Posts: 632 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Joseph Z
Xboxing Day

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I always stomped on them suckers as well as other insects because they are pests. That's it. I don't kill them because of diseases or anything else.

Dogpile - "Moths"+"dangerous"

3. BioFortean Files
Nature 391: 31-32. Dangerous Moths. Several species of moths are known to cause dermatitis and aggravate respiratory problems. [Found on Ask Jeeves]

4. Cycling Plus - Isn't it fun...
... France 1018 Posts Posted - 23/06/2005 : 20:02:27 Watch out for butterflies and moths - Dangerous beasties! Whatever you ride - ride it with style dirtyleeds sawston, cambridge Unit... [Found on MSN Search]


1. - Pest management info for the homeowner from Univar USA
... are sufficient to kill a small lizard, and cause severe vomiting in a large bird. Many moths exude poisonous fluids from their necks when alarmed. These fluids contain quinones, cyanide... [Found on MSN Search, Google, Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves]

2. Moths
... in the tiger moth family (Arctiidae) that actually advertise their poisonous nature to hunting bats. Moths in this group are poisonous due to toxins in the plant species that their ... [Found on MSN Search, Yahoo!]

6. BioKIDS: Butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) : Information
... flight to avoid predators, and some (swallowtails and monarchs especially) are poisonous to predators. Some moths have ears that let them hear the sonar calls of bats. When they hear a ... [Found on MSN Search, Yahoo!]

Joseph Z

Posts: 1356 | From: Woodbridge, VA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator

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