Home > Moths > 8 August 2014 – Disquieting Melancholy

8 August 2014

8 August 2014 – Disquieting Melancholy

Flounced Rustic (illustration)

The colors and markings  of the Flounced Rustic are immediately apparent. The moth’s wings display a beautiful procession of shades: from the dark, black fur around the thorax, to the white lace above the central grey band, and finally to the milky ribbon skirting the edge of the wings, like a river. The contour of the wing is framed by a checkered band, evocative of the trimmings on a vintage dress.

The meaning of the moth’s scientific name, Lupertina testacea, is more difficult to comprehend. While testacea simply means ‘brick colored’ (describing the orange color of a certain European variant of this moth), lupertina could mean two different things. For one, it might originate from the word ‘lupus’, meaning ‘wolf’, giving the moth a wild, ferocious association. One the other hand, lupertina could have been derived from Lyperina, a word associated with sorrow and pain. This word makes reference to the black and grey palette of the moth’s intricate wing patterns.

Having discovered the connotations behind the name of the Flounced Rustic, I suddenly begin to see the moth in a different light. What at first appeared so charmingly elegant, could be ferocious as a wolf, and silent and melancholic at the same time. 

It reminded me of the song Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands by Bob Dylan, with a tone, it was said, that is ‘at the same time a wedding march and a funeral procession’:

With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace…

And your basement clothes and your hollow face…

With your silhouette when the sunlight dims

Into your eyes where the moonlight swims.

Flounced Rustic (Lupertina testacea)

The Flounced Rustic is species number 353 to be discovered at Shandy Hall.

Post by Bowen Chang (UPenn)