I’ve been seeing these in our garden for ever but I’ve never known what they are. Which is fine, ignorance is an excusable problem. What does bother me a little bit though is that I’ve never bothered to find out what they are. I’ve just assumed that they’re sparrows, you know either tree sparrows or house sparrows, whichever the one is that doesn’t look like a classic sparrow, or maybe they’re female sparrows or juveniles. I dunno. It doesn’t really matter.
Because they’re just Little Brown Jobs as the professional birders would say. Tediously uninteresting and a little bit too much effort to identify from a distance or with a cursory glance.
And yet when you do slow down enough to spend 2:45 on Wikipedia it turns out you’ve been missing out on something all this time. And with not very much effort you become just a little bit smarter and your world becomes a little bit richer around you.
Sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day. Yesterday we were busy doing the usual everyday stuff in the back (picking up dog poo, putting out the rubbish, living the dream) when Ellen goes all Disney Princess and has a little moth land on her finger.
It was one of those common-or-garden small-ish, grey-ish, boring-ish ones that you see all the time. Kind of the moth equivalent of the Little Brown Job. But it occured to me that I should probably find out what it was. Turns out there are a lot of moths that look just like this one but this is, I’m pretty certain, a garden carpet moth. Never heard of it. Which is kinda sad really.
So anyway, when you’re trying to identify moths (and flowers, and trees and birds and pretty much anything) it turns out you need to have at least a little bit of an idea of what you’re talking about. So I ended up hitting up Wikipedia to find out things like “Does the term ‘forewing’ refer to the front part of the wing or the front wing of a pair of wings?” and of course I end up doing the usual Alice down the rabbit hole schtick.
Turns out ‘costa’ is not just everyone’s favourite go-go juice dealer but it’s also the name of the vein that runs nearest the front edge of an insect wing. At least according to the Comstock-Needham naming convention. Who knew? Well, now I do and you do too.
Remember when mainstream media channels used to act dumb and/or condescending round science? Stephen Colbert is among a growing cadre of broadcasters who gets it right. Here’s the best layman’s explanation of gravitational waves I’ve seen.