Saturday, July 23, 2005

What's in a name? 

As near as I can tell from my little pocket guide, this is a Speckled Wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria tircis. Not that the name means a great deal; what does the name of a thing tell you about what it is? To the suitably educated the name may indicate its place in the taxonomic scheme of things – a taxonomy that is in any case man-made – but being able to name a thing so often means putting it in a box and mentally applying the attributes of the box to the thing contained within, without always seeing the thing itself.

So I’ll stick to thinking of it as the little brown butterfly that was generous enough to stop in front of my camera lens for long enough to have its photo taken, whilst its relations were teasing me with their flying-crooked antics.

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