Moths to a flame.

Is there a term for such a behavior?

  • 2
    In some salmon, etc., the behavior is 'semelparity' ("the characteristic of usually mating only once in a lifetime"), or 'suicidal reproduction'. Moths are a different kettle of fish, although some moths are semelparous as well as being inadvertently suicidal by being attracted to light.
    – JEL
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 3:36
  • Sacrificial behaviour; self sacrifice; (both are possible leads). Wiki has a page on Altruism (biology) which is more promising.
    – Hugh
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 4:18
  • IIRC the moths are simply using a naive algorithm -- they are trying to navigate by starlight, which depends on the light source being very far away, so that the moth's angle to the light source effectively never changes. There are other insects, however, that practice autothysis -- deliberately exploding themselves, usually to protect their fellows. Dunno if that's considered malaptive or not, but it does lead to their demise :) Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 5:04
  • From the title I would've tried to toss out species-ending. But that's precisely what the salmon is preventing, and with the poor moths it's just pilot error. - You're trying to find other animals that are literally like moths to a flame? ... fatal attraction didn't help me look. Also, lemmings don't commit suicide.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 5:23
  • I found that magnets are dangerous for dogs. Not quite at the level of moths and flames, true, but the way I found it was with dangerous attraction animal behavior. Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 5:32

1 Answer 1


Maybe you can describe them as self destructive.

  • I am hoping there is a specific term for the maladaptive behavior so I could look up other animals with a similar behavior.
    – Bob516
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 4:07

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