Mottled Euchlaena
Euchlaena tigrinaria
June 10, 2006

This Geometer was clinging to the grass following an early morning rain.  It's the heaviest mottled, above and below, of the Euchlaenas I find.

The moth was named by a Frenchmen, Achille Guenee, in 1857.  Guenee, a lawyer and lepidoterist, pinned names on many North American species without ever leaving his home in Chatelliers. 
He would work with specimens shipped to him, or sometimes, drawings and paintings.  A number of his species are described from John Abbot's illustrations, which were loaned to him at about the time this Euchlaena was described.  Whether or not it was among Abbot's paintings, I don't know.

Abbot, a Revolutionary War veteran, was the New World's first truly American naturalist and painter.  Prior to that (and for a century after, as with Guenee), most of the identification of American lepidoptera took place overseas.  Abbot was the guy who actually did the collecting and sending.  His artwork, however, is what set him apart.  His work (of which Thomas Jefferson was a fan) showed such exacting detail that even two hundred years later, led to an interesting discovery.  Yale's University's Larry Gall, an entomologist with a special interest in the Catocalas, was looking through some of Abbot's Catocala paintings when he came upon a familiar species.  This moth, supposedly described for the first time in the late 20th century, was already depicted in Abbot's collection of paintings.

More of tales of the old moth men can be found here.