Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A load of b.............ks

OK, I know you are not into moths, but the following might interest you.
Identifying the (mostly) big moths - the "macros" - is just a matter of examining their plumage, and is fun and very satisfying, not least because many of them are stunningly beautiful.
But identifying the (mostly) tiny moths - the "micros" - is much much harder. You can usually say, by visual inspection, which family or even genus a micro belongs to, but to identify it specifically (ie, which species it is) usually requires dissection and an inspection of its internal genitalia.
Which can't be much fun for the moth.
Don't go, there is a point to this posting.
My young helper, Clare, wants to pot and identify everything, including the micros, bless her. So today, I went to one of Europe's moth gurus (he lives about two hours' drive away in deepest Norfolk) and asked him if he could advise me on books on the identification of micros. He took me into his study, and showed me a room-high bookcase packed with tomes, big heavy buggers most of them and in various languages, about micro identifications. And EVERY one I dipped into contained nothing but line drawings of genitalia (eg above)
Personally, much as I love acquiring knowledge, I have no enthusiasm for spending the evening of my days sifting through insects' goolies.
I hope you understand.

No comments: