Western tiger swallowtail

You know, I've been writing notes to people and they do not write back. 

That makes me think a couple of things in a row ending with oh well. 

A longterm friend is a difficult case. His taste is refined and he already buys whatever he wants. I mentioned a moth as a joke and expecting no response. But he did. And he responded to the joke. Positively. So I bought the framed moth and had it sent to him.

Ugly moth that looks like two snakes. Largest of the moths. It lives a short and depressing moth-life. Atlas moth, if you like. People find it fascinating. These moths are bred for this moth collecting industry. Hobbyists do various things. Frame them, for example. Real scientific-like. 

The thing is, this moth is born as a large butterfly to mate and then die. It has up to two weeks to do this. It does not eat. Or drink. No mouth parts. Every movement that the moth makes, any physical activity, subtracts from its life. Therefore it sits still. They are born again as moths, the males with wide feathery antenna. They crawl out of their chrysalis stage cocoon with their broad antenna and sit right there and wait for a particular motivating molecule. Boink. They're off in the direction of the molecule. It is the only thing that can motivate them. Next molecule, next molecule, another molecule, their tiny antenna triangulate. They zero right in onto the emanating female.

Luckily the female is nearby. Although lauded for tremendously accurate triangulating ├ęclat, these moths never need fly very far. It's not a big hunt for the female. She's right there. On the same bush. Males and females born on the same bush. The female crawls out perhaps a few feet at most to get to the edge of the bush. Or the tree, or whatever. Huge wingspan but they do not fly very far. Nor very long. Their existence in butterfly form is dismal. Severely handicapped.  Depressingly brief. One single goal. 

It's not that they are lazy, it's that they cannot do anything.

Therefore, they are not interesting. 

Except everyone who I've shown this to disagrees. Some just flip out. Like my brother and his wife. So I bought them one too. 

What the heck. 

Within this discussion the original difficult friend actually wrote back and included a photograph from Facebook of a butterfly that he thinks is beautiful. He expressed a wish that he could take such good photographs.

It looks to be a female of either western or eastern tiger swallowtail. An American species with three forms and many variations between forms, and other very similar species. 

Another species is mostly white instead of mostly yellow. 

Another species has different markings on left and right bottom wings. 

For this species there are two forms of female, one that looks like the male except more colorful, and another form that is black. 

It's a bit of a confusing butterfly. 

The specimen shown me in the original photograph has the full panoply of dots and colors, a female then, either northern or eastern tiger swallowtail. 

The thing is, when this butterfly moves around its wings are held together so that the four bits of wing form a triangle. This species is known for being triangular. A triangular swallowtail. Every photograph that you see shows this. 

Every example of a real specimen is mounted improperly with their wings separated at the bottom as regular butterflies do so that no triangle forms. 

Oddly, this butterfly is mounted against its nature. 

All of them are mounted incorrectly this way. You can see this easily by searching Etsy. Both framed specimens and photographs of living specimens are shown together in array. Page after page of results. All the photographs of living species show a triangular shape for both wings pinched together at bottom. All of the mounted real specimens show the wings separated. 

Do I look like a lepidopterist over here? Am I an expert insect mounting hobbyist? I don't know anything about butterflies, only what I've looked up for these conversations, and I see that all the real specimens everywhere throughout the entire industry are mounted improperly and all the hobbyists doing this thing do not know the basic facts of this butterfly. And I do. 

La la la. 

A dummkopf like me with no butterfly knowledge drops in and notices more than all of the butterfly hobbyists doing this butterfly mounting through their lifetime. 

It makes buying a gift a bit difficult. The example he showed was a rather poor photo, all of the photos on Etsy are better but not all of them have the best characteristics of all of the available forms and variations for this species. Then frame is a separate purchase. And matting separate from that. 

In this case, photographs of living specimens are better than framed real specimens. Even with the additional problem of matting and framing a photograph yourself. After all that, not particularly less expensive. 

I wrote a specific butterfly vendor, one I had used and talked to before -- who else could I share this insight? -- Over there in Britainialand, and he hasn't written back. Go figure. 


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