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Scientists Halt Moth Explosion by Persuading Some to be Gay


Scientists hoping to halt a population explosion of brown-tailed moths (above) in Yorkshire, UK have come up with a novel solution:

Spurn"Scientists are using a powder that spreads female pheromones, the smell of sexual attraction, [that] confuses the male moths, thus slowing the breeding. The powder is left near breeding grounds and, when larvae hatch, they are coated in it. Other male moths are then tempted naturally to make contact with them, believing them to be female. Moths have small brains and dreadful eyesight."

Men living and working at a Royal National Lifeboat Institute at Spurn Point "were developing rashes and breathing problems from the poisonous hairs of the larvae blown in the wind" because there were so many moths.

The pheremones seem to have worked and have not affected other insects, according to Andrew Gibson of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust: "They are species-specific and are doing the job."

The Times Online notes the humanity in their mission: "Many local councils recognise the menace of the brown-tailed moth and will send their pest-control officers to deal with them. Forcing the creatures into civil partnerships, however, is a new way of dealing with their population explosion. It appears more effective than trying to starve their poor."

*The paper notes "To confuse the issue [the moths] are not brown-tailed at all but, like some of Sir Elton John’s more restrained stage costumes, predominantly white."

And I must note that the moth does bear a striking resemblance to the gayest crustacean ever.

Scientists keep moths in check by persuading males to be gay [times online]

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  1. Just crank up the Sondheim and your moth problems are over!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 8, 2007 10:06:59 AM

  2. "Scientists Halt Moth Explosion by Persuading Some to be Gay"

    I have this vision of thousands of tiny moths, going "Pffft" in little bursts around a porch light.

    Also, insert obligatory "moth balls" joke here.

    Posted by: tjc | Aug 8, 2007 10:59:41 AM

  3. Oh, jeez. They're gay because they think they're having sex with girl moths but they're really boy moths? I think gay men are attracted to male pheromones not female ones.

    The closest analogy, and even it has its flaws, is that these are more like tiny Eddy Murphys.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 8, 2007 11:41:00 AM

  4. It's just upsetting that a natural moth explosion is considered a pest problem.

    Posted by: Carmine | Aug 8, 2007 12:37:16 PM

  5. Spurn Point? More like Sperm Point -- look at that thing!!!

    Posted by: Becks07 | Aug 8, 2007 12:44:08 PM


    Posted by: CLIFF | Aug 8, 2007 1:32:29 PM

  7. Dang Becks07, you beat me to it!

    Heaven help us if that thing ever swims around and hooks up with Australia. We'll end up with a gazillion pound baby with a Crocodile Dundee accent and a cravin' for vegamite sandwiches.

    Posted by: Zeke | Aug 8, 2007 6:11:58 PM

  8. I gotta quibble here. The male moths aren't gay. Other moths are coated in female sex scent, so what do the mating attempts signify?

    That male moths find the FEMALE sex scent overpoweringly arousing.

    That's just straight guys out of control!

    Posted by: oddjob | Aug 8, 2007 8:00:52 PM

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