An EXPLANATION of the TWENTY SEVENTH PLATE
The white Feather-winged Moth
THE pretty Object now under Observation was a small white Moth, of a Kind
found sometimes upon the Nettle. It had four Wings, each whereof appeared
to consist of two long slender Feathers, very elegantly fringed on either Side with ex-
ceeding fine and small Hairs, proportionable to the Stems out of which they grew,
much like the long Wing-feathers of some Birds ; their Stems were likewise (as in such
Feathers) inclined backwards and downwards, in a Manner which the Drawing shews.
Each Wing in the hindermost Pair was about half an Inch in Length ; and the fore-
most Pair out-measured them by near a Third.
This whole Animal, even to the naked Eye, appeared fashioned and contrived
with exquisite Regularity and Beauty ; but when brought under Examination before the
Microscope, every Part of it exhibited an Elegance beyond Description. The Body,
Legs, Horns, and Stems of the Wings were covered all over with Feathers of different
Shapes and Sizes, appropriated to the particular Places where they grew. On the least
Touch they came off upon the Fingers, and stuck like a white Powder between the
little Rugæ of the Skin, and being view'd by a Glass that magnisied a great deal (of
which E F representing the twenty-fourth Part of an Inch, is the Scale ; as G, which
represents no more than one Third of an Inch, is of a lesser Magnisier) many of
them, and especially those interspersed among the Hairs of the Wings, were found
to consist of a Stalk or Stem in the Middle, and a brushy Part on each Side, resembling
the Figure A.
Underneath these Feathers the pretty Insect was covered over with a crusted Shell,
extreamly thin and tender.
Surveying its Wings with the greatest Magnifier, the Tusts or Hairs which sringe
them as it were along the Edges, appeared to be nothing else but thick-set Rows of
little Twigs or Branches, resembling the peeled or whitened Sprigs of Birch wherewith
Whisks are made for brushing Beds and Hangings. The Form of them is thewn at D.
The Stems of the Wings, and the greatest Part of the Body, are covered with Fea-
thers, brushy on both Sides like those of a small Bird, as we see at the Letter B. The
Horns and small Parts of the Legs were adorned with another Sort, which appeared
through the same Microscope of the Shape C.
'Tis uncertain whether the component Parts of these Feathers are the same as those
of Birds ; but the contrary is most probable, since Providence seems to alter its Method
in the Fabrick and Fashion of the Wings of flying Insects, composing some of thin,
extended Membranes, as we see in the Libella or Dragon-Fly ; and such Membranes are
thick beset with short Hairs or Bristles in others, as the Flesh-Fly, &c. The Wings of
M?ths and Butterflies are covered with small Feathers, both on the upper and under
Side, disposed with the utmost Regularity, almost like the Tyles on an House, and
adorned with most lovely Colours. The Wings of the present Subject we see divided
into four large Feathers : The little Grey Plume-Moth has eight or ten such Divisions,
each branched somewhat like a Herring-Bone, or a thin-haired Peacock's Feather with
the Eye cut off ; these shut together, or open Fan-Fashion, all lying under one another
when closed, and by each other's Side when expanded. The Beetle Kinds have Ely-
træ or Case-Wings, which are hollow Shells in the Form of Butchers Trays ; and under
them most commonly a Pair of fine filmy membraneous ones are folded up, and secured
from being injured by the Earth, wherein these Creatures frequently reside.
Now 'tis greatly worth observing, that wherever a Wing consists of discontinued
Parts, the Interstices between such Parts are seldom much larger or smaller than what
we find between these Brushes ; which seems to intimate, that the Particles of Air will
not easily, if at all, pass through them ; and if so, they serve the Animal as well, nay
perhaps better than if they were extended Membranes. Our Author remarks also, that
Batt, Dragon-Flies, Scarabs, and such other Creatures as have undivided and smooth
Wings, are furnished with stronger Muscles, and move their Wings with much more
Strength and Velocity than those Birds, Moths, and Butterslies whose Wings are co-
?ed with Feathers ; and supposes, “ The little Ruggedness thereby occasioned may
" help their Wings somewhat, by taking better Hold of the Parts of the Air, or not
" suffering them so easily to pass by any other Way than one.”