If the scientific name, Argyrthesia bonnetella, is examined, its sources can be identified. Arguros is the word for silver and esthes translates as dress. The two words combined refer to the metallic sheen on the moth's wings. Bonnetella is in honour of the Swiss entomologist, Charles Bonnet (1720 - 93) who studied plant lice. He coined the term 'phyllotaxis' to describe the arrangement of leaves on plants and also believed that all future generations of mankind existed in the form of homunculi - miniature human beings - who grow during gestation and are born when they reach the correct 'baby' size. In the novel, Walter Shandy fears for his son Tristram's imminent birth and is concerned that 'the little gentleman' or homunculus will have insufficient strength owing to the peculiar nature of his conception - but this is a digression too far, I fear. Read the opening chapter and you will understand.
The little micro-moth, with its dark, oblique cross-band, was identifiable from illustrations and photographs, but required confirmation from Charlie Fletcher as I couldn't be certain.
Now I am sure I won't forget species number 442 (Hooray for a new species!) - a mothy speck to carry a nine volume, eighteeth-century novel as an association.
I doubt I would ever have been able to identify the moth above. Now I have examined the photograph carefully and can see where the distinguishing colourings are (white head, grey thorax and black dots), I know what species it is - but the insect is so small I doubt I would recognise it in the future without help. The scientific name refers to para (in support of) the Dutch entomologist Jan Swammerdam (1637 - 80) who demonstrated that the various stages of an insect's development (egg, larva, pupa, adult) were all the same insect; the second part nebulella means smoky or misty recording the colouring of the moth. And this is species number 443. Two new species for the gardens in one night is a bonus.
|Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola)|
|Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla)|
|Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)|