“Beautiful Wood Nymph”, LOL.
July 18, 2011
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two nights ago I was sitting on my back porch, watching the moths et al. flock to the two bright floodlights (yes, I picked them on purpose) mounted over the patio door. This oddly shaped and patterned moth lit on the screen. I noticed its long and very furry front legs. I popped it in a plastic baggie so I could bring it inside to show my wife. We oohed and ahhed and exclaimed over the unique colours and funny limbs, and at one point I said something like: “I think it’s one of those bird-poo-mimicking moths. You know, they look like poop.” I released it a short while later and then retired for the evening.
The next day we were toiling away in the back yard, and I started walking toward our fence so that I could toss some weeds I’d just plucked from a garden over the fence and into the woods beyond. As I approached (our new and much-sweated-and-blistered-and-cussed-over) wood fence, I saw a whitish blob on the top rail and thought: “stupid bird went and pooped on our lovely new fence muttermuttercurse”. I stepped in for a closer look. I know, “ew”, but there was this weird reddish squiggle and I was wondering what the heck the bird had been eating. As I peered at this mysterious squiggle, mere inches away from this “poop”, my brain finally clued in to what I was actually looking at. “Holy crap,” I said (no pun intended) “that’s not a poop, that’s a MOTH!” Indeed, it was the very same “maybe it’s a poo-mimic” moth from the night before, doing a HECK of a job at looking like a fresh bird turd.
Look at the shades of bird-poo-green and white! The black cruddy-looking bit by the head! The fuzzy feeties! The feet add to the *splat* illusion, especially when viewed from above:
So I BugGuide-ed this critter, by typing “bird poo” into the search engine. Its picture came up right away, and I figured it would have a colourful name to go with its poopy appearance. Something like, oh, I don’t know…Bird Poop Moth or Dropping Moth, or Aaak! Don’t Set Your Glass Down On That Moth.
But no – no, dear friends, it did not have a single scatological reference in its name, which made my 12-year-old-boy-ish sense of humour very sad. This master of mimicry is called…wait for it…the Beautiful Wood Nymph (Eudryas grata). Really? REALLY??? I always thought entomologists, as a general rule, were a pretty funny bunch, but someone sure missed the punchline on this one.