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The trouble with being an indiscriminate shutterbug

June 10, 2016

A six-legged bug with wings that may, or may not. be a brown paper wasp.

I confess that many of my photographs are little more than crimes of opportunity, with no premeditation whatsoever.

My large number “bugs on stuff” photos are a case in point. I’ll be sitting by a window in a restaurant, or a coffee house, or just minding my own business in a back alley and along comes a bug and sits down near me, or on me, or on a wall, a window, my open laptop, my closed laptop, by a dumpster, or whatever.

That’s all there is to it. I’m sitting there, the bug is sitting there and the camera, with its 1 cm macro mode, is likewise at hand. It’s all too tempting.

Temptation plus opportunity, U.S. evangelical religious types on the Internet are fond of saying, equals trouble and yielding to temptation equals sin.

Apparently Seneca the Younger did not say that religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful but I wish that he had. I certainly agree.

I also really like what Seneca is now believed not to have said about luck—that it’s what happens when preparation meets opportunity. That’s good, isn’t it? He’d have made an excellent Boy Scout leader, if he’d really said that.

What can I say about all bug photos I take?

Maybe a moth. Perhaps a butterfly.

Maybe a moth. Perhaps a butterfly.

A picture may generally be said to be worth a thousand words but on a blog post of a given photo, you can get away with as few as a hundred. You should write something though; in order to provide context and provenance, to look like you’re not just” sluffing it off”, to give search engines something to index and so that your readers have…well…something to read.

So, regarding the two accompanying photographs to this post—the top one was taken this morning (June 10) from a window seat in McDonald’s and I have no idea what kind of flying insect it was. The only physical detail I can add to what’s visible in the photograph is that whatever it was, it was no longer than the joint of my index finger.

The second photograph was taken on June 2, from the same window seat. I would point out the long thorns or branches projecting off the insect’s legs, which are interesting but in no wise help identify the species.

It’s certainly some kind of Lepidoptera but that hardly narrows it down. This order is an etymological catch-all for the some 180,000 species of all the world’s known moths and butterflies—with “Moths” and “butterflies” being fairly fanciful distinctions, at best.

The Wikipedia entry promising a “Comparison of butterflies and moths” all but gives up before it begins—ending the opening paragraph with the frank admission:

“None of the taxonomic schemes are perfect, however, and taxonomists commonly argue over how to define the obvious differences between butterflies and moths.”

There is literally thin to no obvious distinction between the two.

Butterflies always have thin antennae and (with one exception) have small balls or clubs on the end of them. Moths can have quite varied antennae that are rarely thin and notably lack the ball end.

So, if I understand correctly, what I photographed on June 2 was either one of the few moths that have thin antenna or one of the exceptional butterflies without balls.

Perhaps I should try to run the photos without comment. Click the images to enlarge them.

One Comment
  1. Sandra permalink

    Interesting and that last statement was very amusing!


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