Little Moth Going Viral

small tortricid moth on green leaf

Tortricid moths are typically small, humble creatures that would rather hide than play with you and your camera.

I suppose when something is small and inconspicuous we don’t regard it much at all unless it is causing us some sort of problem. Bacteria and viruses immediately come to mind, which in turn brings to mind the artful renditions of some viral/bacterial structures (one was hepatitis C, the others are slipping my mind right now) that I saw on display in a fairly recent MASS MoCA exhibit; their captivating forms certainly belied their malignant powers. And so it was similarly, as I was trying to identify this tortricid moth, that I found a parallel of sorts. I didn’t get further than the Family level (Tortricidae), but the remark that “many [tortricids] are regarded as pests” sort of stuck out to me. It probably shouldn’t have; pest status among insects is an important piece of knowledge. I did think that maybe a large group of animals would have a couple other notes; it didn’t. Not surprisingly, torts tend to be small and inconspicuous (an evolutionary advantage I’m sure), hardly worth a second glance, and yet like a virus, they can be quite striking when you see their intricate patterns up close. That kind of thing isn’t even an afterthought for most people, however, unless maybe you’re on bug photo blog (or in an art museum). It’s an unfortunate comparison to be able to make but perhaps illustrative of how the primacy of the human mind is determined.


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