The arriviste

When I saw three of these spectacular moths together, they were the first I’d sighted in two years. The satiny look of their wings, with the gold forward edge makes the Cydalima laticostalis a favourite of mine. One of the sad things about our pandemic lockdown was the complete disappearance of moths. Did the virus destroy them? Insects often have analogues of the ACE-2 enzymes that the virus attacks in humans, but are distant cousins of the variant that circulates in our bodies. We know that the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot breed inside mosquitos. So it is unlikely to have been directly affected. Instead, the extreme amount of pesticide sprays used in the health theater of the first six months of the pandemic must have put and end to them. I was happy to see them coming back.

In the next few days I saw more moths: a legume pod-borer (Maruca vitrata), one or two rice leaf-rollers (Cnaphalocrocis medinalis), and the stranger above, which I first mistook for an old friend. I began to find something odd about the whole thing. What I was seeing were moths which were uncommon or unknown in my neighbourhood before the pandemic. What happened to what were once the common ones: the beet webworm moth (Spoladea recurvalis), the banded pearl (Sameodes cancellalis) or the yellow-tailed tussock moth (Somena scintillans)? Perhaps the excessive spraying of pesticides killed them off, and now the city is being slowly repopulated by moths which have just flown in from the countryside around us into what they must see as a new world. I have to make friends with my new neighbours, so can anyone help with ID for the one in the photo here?