Sunday, July 15, 2012

They're back: Black & White with Red on top

We're back! Gnophaela vermiculata poses for the camera
It's still a week until the US National Moth Week (which we Albertans will celebrate, even if we aren't invited), but the Police Car Moths started flying last week, perhaps to avoid the subsequent deluges.
Green Lattice?
With the Edmonton Police now sporting black & white patrol cars, the common name makes more local sense than in previous years. As common names go, this one is a good model. Consider the previous 'common' name, Green Lattice.
Another side of the Police Car Moth
OK, whatever, there's no rule that common names (or scientific names for that matter) have to make any sense. I suppose the long hairs on the caterpillar may intersect like a lattice? Well, not really and 'green' eludes me. Blue, yellow, black, and red, sure, but green?
Gnophaela (originally Omoiala) vermiculata (Grote, 1864) larva 
The genus name is probably from the Greek for 'darkness' (gnoph), the moth is mostly dark, and the species name seems to mean wormy. In English we have 'vermiculate' for 'worm-like' or decorated with wormy lines. The gardener's friend 'vermiculite' also comes in worm-like accordions. Perhaps the name was coined on a dark and wormy night?Nah, the original name was Omoiala vermiculata: wormy shoulder (Greek omo = shoulder) anyone?
Orange-shouldered Panda Moth?
I'm tempted to make up my own name for this attractive day-flying moth. But that's really just bludging (the basement needs mopping up, but the rain is still pouring, ergo blog). Police Car Moth is fine with me.


  1. Sorry to hear the south side is getting so hammered with weather this year (again!). Apparently our garden has not washed away yet.
    Last year the police cars were fond of the garden dogbane, the patch of which has now doubled and I 'm wondering if I should reign it in.
    By the way, the above comment seems to be a bit of Dutch SEO spam.

  2. Hi Adrian: 85 mm between Saturday night and Monday morning. Sunday at 5 am we were out cleaning the gutters, swatting mosquitoes, and learning to not appreciate Scots Rose thorns.

    Interesting about the dogbane - it's not on the weed list anymore, and is attractive in flower, but maybe one of those that requires more thought before planting.

  3. thanks for sharing.