Monday, January 28, 2013

Little Death on Wings

Hey y'all

Chinese New Year is just around the corner and so, as it is every year, this signals the time when my parents work themselves up into a frenzy of house keeping. Mountains upon mountains worth of mess, caused as a result of decadent and slothful living for the past few months have to be cleared in under two weeks. Suffice to say; it's never pretty. Just day two, and we've already carted out three cars full of trash to the recycling station and the dump, and that's AFTER we stuffed the trunk, back seat AND the passenger's seat.

Still, digging through piles of recently forgotten garbage has its advantages. Why, just a couple of hours ago I managed to procure for myself three box frames, a very large. bell jar, and a wallet for my troubles. The bell jar I can use for my self-contained environments, the boxes, meanwhile are going to be perfect for insect displays.

I chose the Death's Head Hawkmoth I found in Sarawak as one of the insects I intended for my displays. Acherontia styx, or Lachesis (I can't be sure which) are two parts of three subspecies of moths (the third being called Atropos, after the Moirai of Greek mythology) with unique markings that resemble a skull, or "Death's Head" on their thoraxes. Because of this, the moths have long been regarded as omens of misfortune and bad luck in cultures across the world.

Superstitions aside, the moths are also known as bee-robbers for their propensity to sneak into hives for honey. The moths disguise themselves from the bees by emitting pheromones but its not a fool proof method and moths have sometimes been found stung to death in hives; An indication of how far these insects will go for honey.


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