He Be Buggin'
In the most recent issue of Nature, noted Harvard explorer and entomologist Rudyard Q. Spickle, Ph. D. has announced his capture and identification, deep within the rain forest enveloping the Amazon River basin of Brazil, of a heretofore undiscovered species of large decorative butterfly. He has duly named his new find Hebebuggin braziliana.
Judging from search party notes and photographs, H. braziliana is indeed quite a large butterfly, measuring as much as a full 15” across its generous multi-lobed wingspan! That places the insect at roughly 25% bigger than the second-largest known butterfly on the planet, the Queen Alexandria’s Birdwing of Papua, New Guinea.
The great size of this newest known lepidopteran certainly aided in Dr. Spickle’s discovery amid the “exceedingly dense and dank greenery of that particular tract of rain forest we had been navigating for humid and heat-stroking days”. Further, according to ruddy, disheveled and bespectacled Ruddy, “In my feverish stagger, I just happened to nudge aside the 8 foot long leaf of a Manicaria saccifera, [ed.: an Amazonian palm noted for its sizable leaves] and there he was!”
Though the gender of this single butterfly has not yet been definitively determined, Dr. S believes that the insouciant adolescent strut and preen of its mating display are evidence enough of its macho nature. Supporting the good doctor’s tentative determination are the varied, exhibitionist — and decidedly unfeminine — ‘punk-ish’ or graffiti-like markings upon the insects broad wings.
Though Dr. Spickle has in recent interviews stressed the expeditionary fervor, tenacious rigor, and enduring hardship of his many lengthy forays into the deepest and most remote of rain forest regions, this reporter has found that the entomologist and his devoted party of native trackers and assistants have, in fact, never really strayed that far from a seedy hostel on Avenida da Amizade in the western Brazilian town of Tabatinga. (Seems they often enjoyed the padrone’s late brunch of mangoes in avocado cream, accompanied by toasted croissants with whipped butter, and espresso; I have copies of the receipts. Also, local raven-haired barmaid Beatriz Cavaco Silva has taken quite fondly to Dr. Spickler’s guide and personal valet, Tiago, and can corroborate.)
Situated overlooking the muddy Amazon along the mountainous Brazilian border with Peru and Colombia, Tabatinga is but a short hike from some of the straggling vestiges of highland rain forest left after decades of logging operations and the clearing of land for crops. Apparently — and at variance with the doctor’s claims — H. braziiana was discovered on a lazy Saturday afternoon, quietly sunning itself within a clump of vegetation left standing at one end of Tabatinga’s modest airstrip.
Regardless of the dubiousness of Ruddy’s claims regarding location and terrain and obstructing fauna and degree of difficulty related to his discovery, Hebebuggin braziliana is indeed a great and historic find. Its telltale wing patterns now provide the scientific community with undeniable evolutionary links to such remotely dispersed and varied lepidopterans as the Malaysian Mazewing, the Plaid-Pupae Moth, the Splitwing Seraphim, the Marblespot, The Daggerdoodle, and the Seeing Eye Static Butterfly.
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