Monday, August 02, 2010

The Moth and Me #13

Welcome to the thirteenth edition of The Moth and Me blog carnival. Although thirteen is widely regarded as an unlucky number, there are those who go against the grain. None of the folks who submitted posts seemed to be scared off by triskaidekaphobia, and for that I thank them.

The number thirteen is often associated with the supernatural. Since many moths are creatures of the night and their life histories can be downright bizarre, it doesn't take much imagination to think of some of these posts as part of a collection of spooky stories.

A happenstance meeting with a moth in London briefly reminds Martin of Martin's Moths of Gothic architecture and a sinister murder case. Chris of The Skeptical Moth tells a ghost story, albeit a scientific one (it's about a previously undiscovered ghost moth). There are many other fantastical creatures in the annals of the weird, but even in the times of the ancients, sphinxes can't have been as common as they seem to be now: this carnival includes sphinx moth (or hawk moth, if you prefer) reports from Mark at Skev's B.L.O.G. in Leicestershire, UK, and Matthew of SEE TRAIL in Texas, USA. There's even a sphinx moth mimic (an Apatelodes) from Missouri, USA (a first state record for Shelly at MObugs).

Several posts deal with caterpillars and their transformation from crawling things to creatures of the air. Even when the transformation goes well (as it does in this post from Elaine at Memorizing Nature), it's somewhat uncanny. When Tim at The Backyard Arthropod Project attempts to rear a found caterpillar, however, he soon has a totally unexpected creature on his hands (zombie caterpillars, anyone?). Since caterpillar's life is a hard one, some species defend themselves with chemical warfare; in this post, Kristen at Tales from the Butterfly Garden explains why you want to think twice before touching fuzzy-looking caterpillars.

Adult moths have to worry about predators, too, of course. Sometimes death comes from the air, as it did for this Edwards' Glassy-wing Moth found by Katie at Nature ID; sometimes it comes from the ground, as it did for an Australian moth found by Denis at The Nature of Robertson.

Despite the number, though, this carnival isn't really a collection of supernatural stories. That ghost story, for example, is really about doing science. Another post about doing science (and the intimate relationship between moths and plants) is this one, where Chris at Coyote Crossing interviews researcher Jeremy Yoder about his work with yucca moths.

A more informal way of doing science is to set out a moth trap in one's backyard and see what happens. This is more common in the UK than in North America at the moment; Charlie at 10,000 Birds has been posting mothy updates like this one about June moths, while Mike at Norfolk Wildlife shows a tiny but well-camouflaged moth.

Backyard mothing has yet to become as popular in North America as it is in the UK, but we do have bioblitzes or biothons here. Seabrooke at The Marvelous in Nature helps out with a biothon and discovers that moths can add good numbers to a biothon total.

Even without a ongoing moth-netting project, some moths are eye-catching enough to stop observant people in their tracks. Some are colorful, like these from John at A D.C. Birding Blog (currently located in New Jersey). Some have flashy spots, like this one found by Natalie at dreamfalcon. Pink is a color that gets people's attention, as I've found when posting photos of Rosy Maple Moths on Flickr, so it's no wonder this little pink moth got the attention of Amber at Birder's Lounge.

And finally, if you're like me, you are fascinated by moth nomenclature (well, ok, most people aren't like me, but bear with me here). Any group of critters with common names like The Small Engrailed, Abrupt Brother, The Neighbor, Dejected Underwing, Wanton Pinion and Disparaged Arches (to name but a few) offers plenty of prospects for wordplay, if that's your game. The Voice of the Turtle's lavenderbay considers various things that have been named for Virginia, including the Virginia Ctenucha moth.

With that, The Moth and Me #13 comes to a close. I don't believe there's a host for August yet, so drop Seabrooke a line at canadianowlet AT if you are interested. Thanks to everyone for their posts and submissions this month. Now get out there and look for some more moths!


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Cool! Thanks for the mention in your well-thought-out post. I still don't know how carnivals work. Chris was kind enough to give me the heads up for his, but I had no idea you even read my blog. Again, thanks!

Jennifer W. Hanson said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for posting the original post! Part of the research process for putting this carnival together was looking at blogs that had been included in past editions of The Moth and Me, so I was glad to find your post.

Memorizing Nature said...

Great compilation, and I'm not even finished! Moths are by far the most fascinating creatures. (Although I founded a moth club in Grade 3 and lost all the members by the second week).

Jennifer W. Hanson said...

Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying the posts. I am very impressed that you founded a moth club that young. :) Too bad it didn't work out. I think moths are a great way to get into nature; they're varied in appearance and often very accessible.

Kristen said...

Thanks for the mention!