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15 July 2016

15 July 2016 – Gothic in Dead of Night

Gothic (Naeina typica)

Today we had a visit from a Gothic (Naenia typica), which brought all the medieval terms to mind as I tried to pin down what it is exactly about this moth that makes it “Gothic”. 

The left tower of Notre Dame de Chartres appears before me with its soaring spire and jewel-box-like exterior. Is it the branching vein lines that remind me of the openwork on the arches? Or is it better to liken those to the radiating petals on a rose window, each delineated by a thin black border? Or, rather, should I take them to be rib vaults intersecting at the keystone that is the oval mark? 

The longer I look at it, the more I am captivated by the beautiful netted effect of markings and the dark shading. Bowen (UPenn intern 2014) has written beautifully about the mythical origins of its scientific name (a reference to Naenia, the Roman goddess of funerals) and its hermitic behaviour. This moth is not easily attracted to light (no vampire reference there) and is drawn instead to sugar as part of its feeding habit.

This moth has been seen once before in the York Museum Garden in 2014, but it had not been seen on home ground. So join me in welcoming species number 379.