Researchers and biologists team up in Hawaii to study one of Hawai‘i’s many unique evolutionary creations: Philodoria leaf mining micromoths. The caterpillars of these micromoths are so small that they live inside the leaves of their Hawaiian host plants. This type of caterpillar is called a leaf miner because it eats by tunneling between the layers of their Hawaiian leaf homes, eventually emerging as a miniature moth no larger than an eyelash.
Philodoria only occur in Hawai‘i and recent research suggests that, like many Hawaiian insects, they are threatened with extinction. Most Philodoria moth species can only feed on a single species of Hawaiian plant and some of these Hawaiian plants are themselves endangered. The scientists studying these micromoths hope that learning more about them will help us understand how to better conserve them. Indeed, how can we protect something that we don’t know?
This film takes a look at one hidden corner of environmental conservation work and why some say it’s important to preserve even the smallest of organisms, like microscopic moths only found in Hawaii. At the intersections between Hawaii culture, science, and the environment, it’s a story about appreciating the small things and their right to exist.