Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Invention of Mothers

This post is about the people who are interested in the order Lepidoptera.  It has been suggested to me that, in the same way that people interested in things with feathers are referred to as "birders", so those interested in insects with two pairs of membraneous wings and with scales should be referred to as "mothers".

It is important to get the words in the title of this post in the correct order, or else there could be ambiguity with Mr Zappa's band although one should be pronounced 'muthas' and the other 'moth-errs". 

In case anyone wonders why the word "Lepidopterists" isn't used it is because I have trouble spelling it (and Blogger's spell checker keeps trying to change it to "Peridontists").  Another alternative could be Lepidoptologists - again difficult to spell and suffers from the same problem as ornithologist (which word isdescribed by Sean Dooley in 'Anoraks to Zitting Cicticola' as ".. the type of people who call stamp collectors philatelists, actors thespians and themselves onanists.")

Having got that out of the way let us move on to some moths.  As always any comments on the IDs offered is appreciated.

The first image is very dodgy since I am not even sure it is of (immature) moths.
This second one is definitely a moth, and some thoughts about ID follow the second image below.! It was hanging out on the foliage of Acacia dealbata.
Of particular interest is the head of this creature.  In trying to compile a list of attributes of moth families, using the key features listed in Zborowski and Edwards I frequently came across references to "upturned sharp, sickle shaped palpi".  I had always assumed this was about a micro-feature that would be of little use.  In this image the large palpi are clearly visible curling up in front of the antennae
My (50% complete) list directed me to the family Xyloryctidae and an image in the Field Guide to the genus Telecrates.  Checking the images in Donald Hobern's collection I conclude that this is Telecrates melanochrysa (although noting the text with that image that it is very similar to Lichenaula arisema).  I consulted the reference blog listed by Donald, but that is too detailed for my abilities and will leave the distinctions to the mothers!.

These next two specimens were feeding in some of the last remaining Bursaria blossom.  They are proving to be a tad difficult to pin down, but I suspect they are some form of Tiger Moth (family Arctiidae).

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