moths

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Documentary Science

Chasing Ghosts: A Short Documentary Debunks a Long-Held Theory About What Pollinates the Ghost Orchid

April 5, 2021

Grace Ebert

What insect has the ability to extend down into the nearly foot-long nectar tube of the ghost orchid? For generations, that question has interested researchers who’ve speculated that the giant sphinx moth, which has a proboscis that often exceeds 10 inches, was one of few species with a tubular tongue that could reach the sticky pollen nestled inside the endangered flower.

Shot during the course of three years, a short documentary by Grizzly Creek Films follows researchers committed to proving this hypothesis. It draws on Charles Darwin’s 160-year-old studies about orchids’ evolution, particularly in relation to one species in Madagascar about which he famously said, “Good heavens. What insect could suck it?” In  “Chasing Ghosts,” the team wades into the buggy swamplands of south Florida alongside snakes and alligators to reach a grove of cypress trees, where the white flowers wrap themselves high among the boughs. There they installed cameras to capture the first-ever photograph of the giant sphinx moth probing the ghost orchid.

In total, the mission logged 6,800 camera hours and 52,173 images taken in both Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Fakahatchee Strand and recorded five species capable of pollinating the delicate plant. Surprisingly, the same event that they sought to capture—the giant sphinx moth with its proboscis reaching into the elusive flower—actually debunked researchers’ long-held hypothesis and set them on a new course of study to determine how this plant continues to reproduce.

Watch the full documentary above, and find more of the Montana-based studio’s adventures into Yellowstone and the rugged landscapes of the southern United States on the Grizzly Creek Films’ site and Vimeo. You also can follow its discoveries on Instagram.

 

A giant sphinx moth near a ghost orchid

Peter Houlihan holding the giant sphinx moth

 

 



Animation Illustration

Fluttering Moths Radiate Whimsy in Twinkling Gifs by Vlad Stankovic

January 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All gifs © Vlad Stankovic

Sydney-based illustrator and graphic designer Vlad Stankovic (previously) has a gift for crafting playful animated scenes. His recent “Piccalilli Moths” project—which was commissioned by Preen, a Los Angeles-based design and architecture firm, for a Culver City restaurant—features sparkly moths that are surrounded by insects and beetles with fluttering wings, twinkling mushrooms, and muted plants that sprout in the background. Created with watercolors and colored pencil before being transferred to Photoshop, the whimsical gifs “were printed using lenticular printing, a technique where the image gives an illusion of depth and movement when viewed from different angles,” the artist said in a statement about the project. Check out Etsy or Society6 to purchase some of Stankovic’s similarly charming illustrations and prints.

 

 



Craft

Giant Fabric Butterfly and Moth Sculptures Hand-Crafted by Yumi Okita

December 22, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © Yumi Okita, shared with permission

North Carolina-based artist Yumi Okita (previously) layers hand-painted fabric, embroidery thread, feathers, and faux fur to create large sculptures of insects. Each handmade moth and butterfly is one-of-a-kind, with coloration and patterning often inspired by existing species.

Okita’s fiber sculptures are designed to be hung from wires or displayed as free-standing works. The fabric wings on the insects measure up to 9.5 inches wide, while the furry creatures stand an impressive 3.5 to 4.5 inches tall. From a distance, they could be mistaken for the real thing, but a closer look reveals an intricate weave of materials and a vibrant array of colors.

The unique creations are sold via Yumi Okita’s Etsy shop, and you check out the growing specimen gallery over on Instagram.

 

 



Animation Art

A Hand-Painted Moth Animation by Allison Schulnik Explores Motherhood and Metamorphosis

June 5, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

A moth, or maybe many, mutates through several different forms throughout the course of painter, filmmaker, and ceramist Allison Schulnik‘s 2019 short film MOTH. The work is somewhat haunting in its painted portrayal of a constantly evolving subject. It transforms into larvae, serpents, other brightly colored moths, and a human to the song Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie, performed by Nedelle Torrisi. The film was inspired by a moth that hit Schulnik’s window, and is described as “wandering through the primal emotions of birth, motherhood, body, nature, metamorphosis, and dance.”

Each animated paper slide is hand-painted with gouache and the project took the Sky Valley, California-based artist over 14 months to make. MOTH is currently on view as a part of the group exhibition Suffering From Realness at MASS MoCA through January 1, 2020. You can see more work by Schulnik on Instagram and Vimeo.

 

 



Art Craft

Large New Embroidered Textile Moths and Cicadas by Yumi Okita

August 4, 2017

Christopher Jobson

These oversized moths and insects by Yumi Okita (previously) are constructed with fabric, embroidery thread, fake fur, wire, and feathers. The Raleigh-based artist makes each piece by hand, creating faithful interpretations of actual insects like the Oleander Hawk Moth or the Peacock Butterfly. You can see many of her most recent creations on Etsy.

 

 



Art

Textile Moth and Butterfly Sculptures by Yumi Okita

July 17, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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North Carolina-based artist Yumi Okita creates beautiful textile sculptures of moths, butterflies, and other insects with various textiles and embroidery techniques. The pieces are quite large, measuring nearly a foot wide and contain other flourishes including painting, feathers, and artificial fur. You can many of her most recent pieces here. (via the Jealous Curator)

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A Colossal

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