Sunday, 13 July 2014

Timothy T

My cousin Tim has been to stay and, presumably in his honour, so has this Timothy Tortrix, one of the most pleasantly-named of UK micro-moths. Its full and grander title is Aphelia paleana, taken from the name of the Greek goddess of plainness and simplicity, Apheleia, and the Latin word palea which means 'chaff'.

How nice to have such a goddess, honouring the unshowy and making the point that an ordinary appearance does not mean that someone or something is uninteresting. The chaff refers to the wheaty colouring around the moth's 'shoulders' and 'neck'. Not a striking little creature but lucky in its name, which probably comes from one of its foodplants, timothy grass.

It also puts me in mind of Timothy the Tortoise which makes famous appearances in Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne. Somewhere, I have a very enjoyable compilation of all the extracts which concludes with the revelation, unknown to the great naturalist and writer, that Timothy was actually Timothea.

Just to be perverse, here are some showy moths which have also spent a night in the eggboxes: a pair of Elephant Hawks and a beautiful Small Elephant. And to conclude, two of my 19 Emperor Moth caterpillars have formed their pupae, wrapped in a strong cocoon with small spikes at one end to deter predators. Human Tim and his wife have taken them home to Devon, to increase the population there when they hatch in April.


Bennyboymothman said...

Lucky you.
I lost all my Emperor caterpillars, despite giving them oodles of foodplant.
I just think it has been too warm for them.


MartinWainwright said...

Hi Ben and v sorry to be slow. Aah, I'm really sorry to hear about your catties. Mine got a bit of condensation so I bought a stretch of muslin to drape on their box in place of the plastic lid and that seemed to work. I'm looking forward to a break from snapping off spurs of hawthorn, mind. All v best as ever, M