September 15, 2005

A Slug's Life

In the Hitchens-Galloway debate last night, which you couldn't have paid me to watch, Galloway apparently said that Hitchens' descent into full-blown Bush shill was the "first ever metamorphosis of a butterfly back into a slug." Roger Kimball, always ready to flub a witty comeback, retorts: "I am no entomologist. But charity requires that I inform Mr. Galloway that slugs do not grow up to be butterflies." Charity requires him. That wry little imp...

But since Kimball rarely gets much of anything right, I thought I better fact-check this bit just to make sure. As it turns out, there's a whole family of "slug moths" (Limacodidae), although the caterpillars in question here are only called "slug caterpillars" because they have stumpy legs and no forelegs, forcing them to gloop around on their bellies like slugs. But they're still technically caterpillars, so Kimball's right. This picture, though, of a "cup moth" caterpillar (Doratifera vulnerans) is seriously cool:


Those little spiny bits are, of course, poisonous. No hapless toad, he. A little more searching around brings us to the saddleback caterpillar (Sibine stimulea):


Just you try to blindside that little feller. And lo, the crinkled flannel moth (Lagoa crispate):


Now that's just weird. On an unrelated note, comments on this site seem to be malfunctioning for all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time. I tried to ask someone about it on the Haloscan tech-support board, to no avail. One day I'll get truly angry and call them "Haloscum" or something equally clever ("Haloscam"?), but I'll hold off for now; maybe they're just having server issues.
-- Brad Plumer 4:44 PM || ||