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Of Moths and Men

I tuned into Silence of the Lambs the other night just in time for the scene where Agent Starling visits the entomologists in their hidey hole at the Museum of Natural History. One of the bug guys has strabismus; the other exclaims “Tough noogies!” after a disputed move in their game of live-bug chess. On the handful of occasions I’ve interviewed entomologists, I’ve found them to be endearingly dorky and a little on the weird side, looks-wise and otherwise. Realizing they can’t all be like the googly-eyed fellow so smitten with Starling, I Googled “sexy entomologist” (not without trepidation) and turned up this Lepidoptera lover. Ooh-la-larva!

Butterfly with an enviable perch.
Butterfly with an enviable perch.

That mug looks kissable if you can stomach the fact that Torres eats cricket-flour pancakes for breakfast. And why not? After all, normal everyday wheat flour contains, on average, 75 or more insect fragments per 50 grams, along with a smidge of rodent hair according to the FDA.

On a related note, I visited the Harrell House Bug Museum in Sante Fe last September and saw an actual Silence of the Lambs moth specimen (aka the death’s head hawkmoth).

Meet Acherontia atropos, whose skull-like markings mean he’ll forever be typecast as a bad guy.
Meet Acherontia atropos, whose skull-like markings mean he’ll forever be typecast as a bad guy.

I also got to handle a tarantula, Madagascar hissing cockroach, scorpion, millipede and other assorted crawlies.

Big hairy spider (nonscientific name)
Big hairy spider (nonscientific name)
Meh, I’ve seen roaches 10 times this big in Texas.
Meh, I’ve seen roaches 10 times this big in Texas.
Spelling lesson: Those are pincers, not pinchers.
Spelling lesson: Those are pincers, not pinchers.
A firm handshake. (It kind of hurt, actually.)
A firm handshake. (It kind of hurt, actually.)