Genius of the Press XX

This GOP is less of a challenge and more of a simple roundup of miserable stock photography.  Alex Wild and others have long ago pointed out the massive failings of many stock photo sites – but here is a brief and painful lep roundup using Google.

Step 1:  Image search “moth on flower”.

Step 2:  Facepalm.

Here is a caption of the first page of results.  Excluding the photos that have no moths and are “moth flowers” (= Phalaenopsis orchids) – only 4 out of 18 images are correct!  I might give you 6/18 if you count two obviously staged photos… but here is my list of reasons starting with 1= top left and 26 = bottom right. (list below)

1) OK, good start!  This looks like a Manduca species (Sphingidae) feeding on a Datura flower.  I’ve seen this myself in the wild – great capture!

2) Orchid

3) Downhill we go.  Obviously a butterfly – Phoebis species (Pieridae).

4) Lycaenidae butterfly – Callophrys species.

5) Hesperiidae – skipper butterfly.

6) Another moth!  Looks like an Autographa species (Noctuidae).

7) Certainly a moth, however something I’m unfamiliar with.

8 ) Hyles sphinx moth nectaring.  Blurry, but a moth!

9) Another skipper.  Just because it’s brown doesn’t mean it’s a moth.

10) Orchid

11) Luna moth on flower.  OK, yes it’s a moth – but I’m sorry, a pretty obviously staged photograph.  Actias luna does not have mouthparts – you’d never find one willingly sitting on a flower.

12) Yet another skipper butterfly.

13) Orchid

14) Vanessa butterfly!  I thought the Painted Lady was about as obvious of a butterfly as possible.

15)  Orchid

16) Orchid

17) Pieridae butterfly on a flower.

18) Orchid

19) Cisseps moth (Arctiinae) – our last real moth photograph.  The webpage has it identified as Pyromorpha dimidiata (Zygaenidae), however the antennae are wrong and this is most likely a tiger moth in the Ctenuchinae.

20) Oh come on, butterfly!  Polygonia species.

21) Moth – but, staged…  I’ve never come across a Sphingidae resting on a flower like this.  While this family readily nectars at flowers, they don’t tend to sit on them like idiots.

22) Orchid

23) Orchid

24) Butterfly, Phyciodes species.

25) Worst staged photograph ever.  It’s a spread specimen that may or may not have been photoshopped onto the flower (it looks wonky).  Broken antennae, torn up wings…  You can also see the shadow from the camera strap on the moth’s left forewing.  Yet somehow it won a medal from some group on Flickr.

26) Same butterfly as 24, in color.


Phew, horrible exercise over.

5 comments to Genius of the Press XX

  • Hee. While it may have been horrible for you, it was fun for me. Interesting. Poor little skippers! =) Thanks.

  • I left a comment on that spread luna moth photo dissing them for nondisclosure of an obviously staged shot. It might get deleted, but for now it’s a nice juxtaposition to all the gushing comments like (to paraphrase), “Wow, you found that in the wild?” and “I never see these with enough light to get the shot.”

  • Neville Hudson

    Here is another shocker for you Chris! Yes, there is a NZ endemic moth called the Magpie moth (Nyctemera annulata) but it is mostly black with a few white blotches and is an Arctiine rather than a Geometrid. There is another even more obvious photo mistake earlier in the article.

  • Justin Groves

    On the subject of the inability to identify moths butterflys etc and the lack of quality photos. The UK has recently seen several awful articles of moths and their food plants being portrayed as frankly destructive creatures. First story i have heard of is clothes moths (micros) the image used in the articel was several macro moths on a piece of material! The second a newspaper with a journalist with a huge grudge againt ragwort (basically a report of lies!)it was awful to read, just made me cringe to read it and how someone has so little knowledge of the natural world. Ragwort being an excellent species for wildlife in the UK.


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