How a moth started a good conversation

If this was a late Victorian novel, this post would have a long-winded and over-blown subtitle. Something along the lines of “Or, How Posting A Picture Of A Moth Prompted An Unexpected But Lovely Conversation With A National Museum.”  But, the fact of the matter is, this is a blog post, not a late Victorian novel, so I went with the simpler title. I think it was the right choice.

Regardless of that, “What” I hear you ask “Is the point of this post?”

Well, the point is largely to point out how a Big National Museum took the time to answer a query that wasn’t directly aimed at them. Specifically, how the Natural History Museum answered my question about an unusual member of the Lepidoptera family without being prompted.

This is the insect in question:

Does anyone know what kind of moth or butterfly this chap is? #lepidoptera

A post shared by Jack Shoulder (@museumadventures) on

Pretty isn’t it? At first I thought it was a leaf or some interesting moss, but when it clicked that no, this is in fact some kind of moth or butterfly I wondered if anyone could identify it. You’ll notice that there is one comment on the Instagram post, this was my friend  identifying that this is a Lime Hawk Moth.

And this is how the conversation played out on Twitter.

It’s really nice how the museum confirmed Kate’s identification instead of steam-rolling in with their own authorial voice – this is the kind of interaction that makes it feel like a conversation instead of a search result page. I also liked how the museum invited me to go a bit further and find out more about the species of moth I found so eye-catching.

This was also a great touch, inviting me to look further at the subject by showing what their Lepidoptera Curator has been up to on his blog. Which, by the way, is fascinating and has some great pictures in it too – go on, check it out.

It’s always good to see a museum interacting with people on social media instead of just broadcasting. It was especially great to see one of the Big Ones interacting with no direct prompt. Well done Natural History Museum!

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