There are many reasons why butterflies and moths are important, both in their own right but also as quality of life indicators. The following attributes form the rationale for conserving butterflies and moths around the world.
Butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems.
- They indicate a wide range of other invertebrates, which comprise over two-thirds of all species. Many of these play a fundamental role in the functioning of ecosystems, including pollinator services.
- Areas rich in butterflies and moths are rich in other invertebrates. These collectively provide a wide range of environmental benefits, including pollination and natural pest control.
- Moths and butterflies are an important element of the food chain and are prey for birds, bats and other insectivorous animals (for example, in Britain and Ireland, Blue Tits eat an estimated 50 billion moth caterpillars each year).
- Moths and butterflies are important pollinators of wildflowers, including several plants that rely on them for their pollination.
- Butterflies and moths support a range of other predators and parasites, many of which are specific to individual species, or groups of species.
- Butterflies have been widely used by ecologists as model organisms to study the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation and climate change.