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Unidentified moth named after Tucson woman

Tucsonan Lee Walsh is a lucky woman.

Being married to a University of Arizona biologist must be exciting enough, especially if he keeps jars of fossilized specimens all over the house.

But she got extra excitement when her biologist husband Bruce Walsh, who doubles as a UA professor, discovered an unidentified moth while he was hanging out in the Chiracahua Mountains. The moth is pink, which is Lee’s favorite color.

Thus he named the moth after his beloved wife. Now officially known as “Lithophane leeae,” the moth can stop flitting around aimlessly confused while lacking an identity.

Unidentified Moth Named by UA Biologist, UAnews.org
While he only found a single Lee moth so far …Walsh said he is confident there are bound to be more. “If this thing is flying at the top of the Chiracahuas, it’s probably pretty common,” he said.
Finding it is another matter because moths like Lithophane tend to over-winter at higher elevations, hibernating when there is snow on the ground and flying off at the first signs of spring. Walsh said bats are the primary predators of moths, and so if the insects can make it through the winter, when bats hibernate, they will likely do well as the weather gets warmer.
As to why L. leeae hasn’t been found before, Walsh theorized that his specimen simply emerged late from hibernation when it was caught. Another theory is that it could be a stray from another mountain range in the region. He said there are a number of species that fly early in the summer and are rare in collections and not often seen in most years.

Having a moth named after you is certainly a thrill, much nicer than sharing your moniker with an infectious bacteria or disease. Poor Lou Gehrig.

Others are honored by sharing their names with roadways, parks and special sandwiches at the local deli.

My biggest claim to name fame is having a goat named after me, which is none too shabby if I say so myself.

A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

What would you name a moth if you discovered one?

Have you ever had anything named after you?

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