Work on Thursday found me hiking up a steep trail in the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness (part of the Umatilla National Forest) in the company of a pair of teenage boys. We were supposed to be collecting data on campsites within the wilderness area, but we didn’t find any campsites. Instead we found a pair of colorful moths engaged in the all-important pastime of making more moths.
I pointed them out to the boys (I’m experienced enough with adolescent males at this point to know that “things having sex” is a pretty surefire way to get them to pay attention to nature, as is “things you can eat,” which is why I also introduced them to thimbleberries). I also took a couple photos with my new toy, the iPhone I finally broke down and bought when I learned what happens when you accidentally set a hot frying pan down on top of the cord for your phone charger, and then learned that my old flip phone was so old they didn’t make new chargers for it anymore.
I’ve been posting spottings to Project Noah via the website for a few months now, but now that I had a smartphone I was eager to try out the app and cut out the step of having to download photos from my camera onto my computer before posting them. I’m determined not to become one of those people who constantly has her nose buried in her phone, but when we stopped for a break at the top of a ridge and I realized I had a couple bars of service, I started filling in the required information about our horny mystery moths on the app. “You have service up here? What are you doing?” the boys asked, curious.
“Well, there’s an app for, uh, people like me who are nerds about nature stuff, where you can post your photos of bugs and plants and whatever. So I’m posting those moths. Maybe someone can tell us what they are.”
“What, and you get likes and stuff? It’s Instagram for plants!” crowed one of them. “It’s Plantstagram!”
“Well, sort of, but it’s more than that – I mean, scientists can see what species have been seen where and–” Their eyes were already glazing over. “Sure. Planstagram. Exactly.”
By the time we got home a helpful Project Noah user had already identified the moths as Gnophaela vermiculata, with the charming and descriptive common name Police Car Moth. The timing was perfect, too, since this was National Moth Week.
Anyway, I think I like my toy. And if you’re a Project Noah user yourself (and if you’re not, you probably should be), you can follow me here.