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A Changing World:
The Bitter Tale of Biston Betularia
I never asked to be different, but I guess that¶s just the way things are in this world. Recessive genes are revealed and some of us are kicked out of the social scene. So that¶s why mum never loved me, I thought as I scuttled down the pale bark of the tree where I rested every day. Others either pushed me aside or tried to avoid me. A shadow cast over the sun, and I stopped suddenly. There it was. A large, grey blur was flying amongst the branches at the treetops. Everyone else around me froze, clinging to the lichens on the tree for their dear lives. Lucky for them, their beautiful white bodies provided enough camouflage to stay safe from the impending doom. I knew I was dead meat. I lifted my feathery, black antennae away from my eyes and looked around. In the far distance I could see the faded outline of another tree. I could barely make out the moths from the bark, except for five black splotches. I imagined that they were just like me; outcasts doomed to predation. My proboscis quivered as I looked up at the menacing bird. Two big, black orbs flicked about, eyeing the other tree intently. I tried to look as small as possible, hoping I could hide underneath someone else¶s wings, but the bloke next to me just whispered, ³Stay still, bloody mutant, or you¶re gonna get us all killed,´ and knocked my tibia out from under me. I scrambled to keep my grip on the branch, but I fell towards the ground. I unfolded my wings and tried to flap my way up, but they were still too wet from the morning dew. I tumbled to the ground, thankfully still alive, praying that the bird wouldn¶t notice me. But it did. The beast flapped its wings loudly as it approached, beak gaping open. I scrambled around in the dirt, looking for cover. I weaseled my way under a patch of dead leaves and hoped for the best. I couldn¶t see, but I heard the sparrow land with an ominous thump. It scratched around the leaves with its giant claws, and I inched my way towards a large clump of dirt in between two mountains of tree root. The bird made a deafening chirp and lifted up into the air again. The air current nearly sent me flying into the side of the tree. I gathered myself and poked my head out of the leaves. The bird was terrorizing the other tree, and by the time it took off, apparently satisfied, there were no more black splotches left. I tried not to think about it. I climbed back up the tree, rubbing dirt out of my eyes with my antennae. I was about to return to my resting place in the shadow of a large branch, when I felt a soft, velvet wing brush up against mine. I turned around to see a black moth like me, only female, and much prettier. She said politely, ³Excuse me,´ ³Uh, hallo,´ I muttered. A female had never spoken to me before. ³I saw you out there. Those white-wings are terrible, aren¶t they?´ ³Oh, is that what they¶re called?´ White-wings. Somehow that seemed offensive. My entire life I had been led to believe that white moths were better and more deserving than black ones. She laughed, her slender antennae quivered slightly, ³You¶re funny; I like you,´ I was taken aback, but I managed to ask, ³What¶s your name?´ ³My name¶s Laria,´ she said, ³what about you?´ ³Ah, er... I¶m Biston,´
She waggled her proboscis towards the sky up ahead. ³Think about that. just say it. ³That kind of thing will be happenin¶ to all the white-wings once the trees are all covered in soot. ³Where are we going?´ I asked. alright. They looked like they were attached to a big block of rock underneath that had giant creatures walking about it. It looked even worse off than the other one. small slivers of light reflected off of the dark. dusty. We¶re mutants. ³Uh. eh?´ ³Well.´ She looked at me with brilliant.just-´ ³Inferior?´ Laria said sharply. you scared me. We had little time on this world. We¶re just. ³See you later. She giggled. ³I assume the trees must be miserable from all this awful tasting powder.´ I said. ³We don¶t have to be eaten anymore.³Biston. and simply awful. and soon we¶ll be the ones in charge. and some sort of smoke billowed out of their tops. and it gets all over the trees around those blocks. ³Follow me. A voice whispered. no. ³Go on. You know what? Meet me in that tree at nightfall.. ³Huh? Our success? What do you mean?´ ³Look. It was just Laria. why don¶t ya?´ . Biston. We weren¶t meant to be around anyway. I thought. ³And what are those creatures?´ Laria fluttered down on a nearby tree. It got in my eyes and I had to brush it away with my antennae as I flapped quietly after her. ³See those big black things up there?´ I saw three large dark shapes in the distance resting among the clouds. right? We don¶t deserve to stay alive. At nightfall. She explained. looking down at the polluted bark. They looked something like trees. Biston?´ she asked. and that smoke will be the key to our success. because black moths will have the camouflage. What a great name. I had no answer.´ ³I don¶t like this. these humans are different. carrying heavy loads or shouting commands. her delicate wings kicking up something black.´ I said. ³Biston!´ I turned around sharply. and think about all the good moths out there that¶re gonna die!´ ³Were they good to you. moonlit eyes. and disappeared before I knew it.. They change the natural order. Biston. Remember this morning?´ I nodded slowly.´ I said. I settled on a branch and looked around. I got something to show you.´ I landed next to her.´ she pointed her foreleg towards a sickly tree bent in an unnatural sort of way.´ she lifted her leg up and shook the black stuff off. but they were much too straight. black powder getting all over my legs.´ my voice trailed off. That¶s just the natural order of things.´ she took off. Everyone else was flying around looking for mates or tending to their larvae. and most of it was dedicated to the next generation. What a strange female. the moonlight guided me to the twisted tree. ³Biston. ³That powder is called soot. They use those big blocks to make the smoke stacks. ³But that¶s not right. That means that moths like you and I are in the clear. ³What¶s that smoke?´ I asked. It doesn¶t have to be this way. waxy leaves. ³Bloody heck. but it was.´ I said.´ she scuttled down the tree. ³Those creatures are called humans. I wanted to tell her that wasn¶t what I meant to say.
and the white-wing tumbled away helplessly towards the dirt. and Laria glanced at me. ³This is a new age. If you can do that.´ The little female was terrified. The birds sang their ominous songs. something that humans would read in their spare time. She said bitterly. Why should you give them the luxury?´ ³I. The sun rose up again and I settled on my branch to rest once more. ³Isn¶t this great?´ ³I don¶t know. but I did find a large block of leather and some leafy stuff. and the black moths began to huddle together.´ By twilight. yellow cover. ³Oh come on. please sir!´ she cried. I was probably hoping to find any sign of the little. I hesitated. Laria inched over to me and giggled. If you can¶t. which read. their thoraxes ripped from their bodies. I didn¶t find any sign of her. If you wanna survive you¶re gonna have to be prepared to adapt yourself. Several of the once-beautiful white-wings were pecked at.. I clutched my soot-covered branch firmly. I guess you¶re right. still pitying the white-wings?´ I looked down in shame.´ Laria ordered me. and their wings torn off violently as their carapaces made their way for the bird¶s stomach. I shoved the poor moth in the thorax with my forelegs. you¶ll die. I remember Laria calling it a book.´ I said. I don¶t want to get eaten.´ Laria laughed. I fluttered close to the ground. but Laria slapped it back down again. ³They never gave you a second thought. and her proboscis was curled up tightly. and the sparrow noticed her right away. the soot was beginning to accumulate on the tree. Biston. and darker moths like us were getting better camouflage.´ I replied.´ she said. ³Teach her. I landed on the faded. ³It was her or us. horrified. It never noticed me for a second. a worried little white-wing approached me. Biston..´ . I only evolved into an imago yesterday. it was a sign of inevitable death. while the bird pecked loudly on the branch above. and moths like you have to learn who¶s on top. but the white-wings seemed as out of place as squirrels swimming in the river. the contrast between her snowy wings and the dead leaves was even worse.´ I lifted my wing slightly. and my wings aren¶t dried yet. and I watched the spectacle from my branch. you¶ll be a king.. and soot flew into my face. She was shaking in fear. ³Please let me hide under your wing. newborn imago that I had brutally shoved to the ground. The white-wings that were still alive wandered aimlessly in the night.´ Without thinking. I looked away. ³I don¶t think-´ ³If you don¶t we¶re all gonna die. ³White-wing. I would not be one of those moths. Biston. At that moment. She flapped away into the blotch of darkness ahead. On the ground. This is a changing world. silly Biston.´ I sighed. I didn¶t know what she meant by spare time. ³Oh. lamenting the loss of their family and friends or being bullied by the black moths. but I wasn¶t quite sure why. ³Please. ³I wish we could all just survive together. there were barely any white-winged moths left. For many moths.. The sparrow from yesterday came swooping towards our tree.Laria took off again. Just as Laria had said. ³Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Species. Today.
without a care in the world.I had no idea what it meant. anyway. and it didn¶t really matter to me. wasn¶t I? . I tasted it with my proboscis: It was delicious. leafy patch. I was going to be a king in this ³new era´ Laria spoke of. I felt my way around the edge with my antennae and reached a white. So for the rest of the night I ate to my heart¶s content. After all.