Most people think of moths as harmless little lepidopterians. The familiar flutter of these creatures around a porchlight is something almost everyone has seen at some point in their life. They are often thought of as "night butterflies", embracing the dark side as members of an order more often associated with sunshine and flowers. Don't kid yourself into thinking that these little guys have yet to discover all the benefits of being blood-feeders. Meet the genus Calyptera...these aren't your average noctuids!
Over time, many species of lepidopterans have developed a taste for the tears (and other secretions) of a variety of mammals. Most of the hosts for these lacrophagous lepidopterans are ungulates...often times domestic ungulates. There are over 100 species of these insects that feed on ungulate secretions, but none of them have the ability to actually severe mammal tissue. Though not really considered blood-feeders, some of these species have been known to suck blood from open wounds via feeding behaviors that resemble the way similar species feed on nectar.
Appropriately, these moths are often called "vampire moths". They only occur in the Old World as far as I can tell, but they do seem to be expanding their ranges. They can be found from Malaysia to Sweden. Unlike mosquitoes and most other blood-sucking arthropods, it is the male moths (as opposed to the females) that take the blood meals. Wounds from a moth bite are apparently quite painful and remain sore for several days. Luckily, these little scale-winged vampires aren't known vectors of any blood-borne diseases...yet.
Moral of the Story
The next time you see a sweet little moth fluttering about in the moonlight, remember they they could be more than the quiet, innocent moths you've always known. Behind that fuzzy facade could lurk a hungry monster just waiting to catch you off guard and sucking your sweet life-blood! Not so much if you are here in America, but definitely if you hanging out in Asia or Europe. :p Either way, you can't help but marvel at the beauty and audacity of a moth that lands on you gently, then pierces your skin for a tasty late-night snack. Evolution, like nature herself, is a magnificent jerk...one we can't help but fall in love with despite how terrifying it is that they created hematophagous owlet moths. o.O