Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Small Sample of Common Names for British Moths

by Edward Hessler

In a review of  Paul Waring's and Martin Townsend's "Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (Third Edition), Caroline Moore of the Spectator (18 March 2017) wrote about how evocative common English names of moth are.

Consider apples. Ananas Reinette. Black Gilliflower or Sheep's Nose, Cortland, Chenango Strawberry, Black Oxford, Ashmead's Kernel, Belle de Boskoop, Sops of Wine, Maiden's Blush...
(Full disclosure: I was raised in Chenango County, NY.)

The moth names are simply too lovely not to share.

"Maiden's Blush, Beautiful Golden Y, Speckled Footman, Grass Emerald, Neglected Rustic, Silky Wainscot, Setaceous Hebrew Character (a moth obviously named by a country clergyman — like the Quaker, the Nonconformist, the Conformist and the Gothic). One can feel across the centuries the excited wonder of the enthusiast who named the Merveille du Jour — still marvellous, intricately patterned with glistening silver and black and peppermint green. And one can sense the frustration of those who named the Suspected, the Uncertain, and the Confused. Poor souls, they did not have Waring and Townsend to hand."

Maiden's Blush [Wikipedia]

A fact/factoid I didn't know and really had no way of knowing is that there are more than 2500 breeding species of moth in the United Kingdom and only 59 breeding species of butterfly. If asked, I wouldn't have expected this large a difference.

The review is beautifully written and starts with a very funny anecdote.

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