This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sunday Rest: Word Not To Use Today: bogong.

You wouldn't want to be a bogong.

Would you?

For a start, you'd have to migrate up to a thousand kilometres every summer, travelling by night and resting in the shade during the day.

Mind you, you wouldn't have to negotiate Heathrow Airport.

It wouldn't be an easy journey, though. You'd be likely to be distracted by the bright lights of the towns. You'd also be in danger of being eaten by...well, more or less everybody.

bogong, you see, is a moth. Agrotis infusa.

Bogongs can't resist the bright lights, particularly those of Canberra in Australia. Buildings there can become covered with a thick coating of moths in the migration season.

In some of the Alpine caves where bugongs spend the summer there is a carpet of dead moth bodies 1.5 metres thick, built up from thousands of generations.

Bogongs are born around Queensland, but as the summer heat approaches they begin to move. They may fly several hundred kilometres each night, feeding on flowering gum trees as they go.
Some time in November, the moths arrive near Mount Bogong in the Bogong National Park. Up to 17,000 moths per square metre can pack the walls of the caves.

Spiders, lizards, birds, and the Mountain Pygmy Possums all start licking their lips.

So, until quite recently, did humans. Aboriginal people would come to the caves to carry out business, hold ceremonies...and eat the fatty moths.


You can burn off the wings and legs and then mash them, or you can mix them with flour to make a sort of moth biscuit. 

Sadly, the moths now contain arsenic, so they're a less tempting snack than before...

...if that were possible.

Word Not To Use Today: bogong. This seems to be an Australian aboriginal word. It may mean big fella, and orginally be the name of the mountains where they aestivate*. Or, alternatively, the mountains may be named after the moth.

*That's like hibernating, but it's done during the summer.

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