Monday, 18 August 2008

An Olympic fan

After the menacing patterns on yesterday adder, here's some innocuous marking. But equally striking. This delicate visitor to the trap is a Twenty Plume moth. Its name is a delight to a journalist prone to error; it actually has 24 plume-like segments to its wings. Its Linnaean name, Alucita hexadactyla, compounds the confusion by meaning 'six-plumed', although to be fair, the scientists were thinking in terms of each wing. The plume moths have an interesting ability to fold their wings along each plume. increasing their resemblance to an Oriental fan. An appropriate image, maybe, to honour our success in the Olympics (and, glory be, almost all done by cheerful athletes who don't sulk).
The Twenty Plume is very common but largely overlooked by the busy world. But not by John Curtis, the early English mothman, who painted it in this picture in his 'British Entomology', a 16 volume marathon which took him from 1824 to 1839.

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