A Zale

2012 July 7

Here’s a porch light moth from almost exactly a year ago (July 3, 2011). From the pose, the size, and the kind of wavy dark patterning on the wings, I think this is one of the Zales[1], a large genus of common moths.

It may possibly be a Lunate Zale, Zale lunata, which is pretty common in eastern North America and has a somewhat variable wing patterning that often looks about like this.

The caterpillars are generalists, eating leaves of trees ranging from plum to maple to willow, so if I go out beating around the bush I could conceivably find them on most anything.

[1] When I first realized that it was probably a Zale, I hoped that it would turn out to be the “Horrid Zale”, just because it is a great name. But no, it isn’t – they have distinctly different wing coloration. Incidentally, Horrid Zales aren’t actually that horrible. It seems that, in Latin, “horridus” means rough or shaggy, with hair standing on end. Which I guess is where the English “Horrid” came from – something that is horrid makes your hair stand on end.

4 Responses
  1. July 7, 2012

    The suggestive name is redolent of books by Dr. Seuss.
    Zales. I wonder what type of creature he would have dreamed up for this name or perhaps this name was taken from a Dr. Seuss book?

    I, too, would have preferred the job title on this construction site to be “Horrid Zale,” simply because it does look creepy –like a moth eaten Persian rug section from an abandoned mansion or the magnified section of a sixties wallpaper or worse still the floor linoleum. A more positive rendition of this bug is that it could make a rather worn hand fan for the boiling hot days of summer that have suddenly suffocated us here in Alberta.

    I am continually surprised by the perversity of insect life you have in the vicinity of your abode. Is it a matter of your place being unusually infested with vermin?

  2. July 9, 2012

    I’d love to see some A. A. Milne in our naming. How about the “Spotted or Herbaceous Zale”?

  3. July 9, 2012

    Julie: Actually, no, I don’t think we have a really unusual variety of insects. In fact, we probably have less kinds than people have further south. This is very much a “seek and ye shall find” situation – if you go just about anywhere and start looking for insects, you *will* find them.

    Well, OK, maybe not so much in Antarctica or Greenland. But anywhere *else* and you’ll find them.

    KT: It goes both ways, I suppose. One could probably write a nice children’s book that only uses names taken from various insects.

  4. July 9, 2012

    The other thing I thought of was how much trouble you could get in as a husband with these things.

    Her: You got me a … a … a MOTH?!?

    You: Well, you said you saw some nice things at Zales!

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