Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moths, what ho!

So, I meant to write this post a week ago when I was at home. I am now in Duluth, but am not going to talk about Duluth a jot (except to remark that it is in the mid-60’s and generally sunny - you should all feel envious)…

Please instead now imagine yourself at my house, which is located 10 minutes (by car) outside the important city of Rupert, which contains 400 people. This is my front lawn:

There are no high-speed Internets wandering about The Forest, which is one reason I did not post until now. However, there are indeed many other things.

It may or may not grow up to be carniverous. It is cute. It plus mother were about my house for most of the week. Oh so little and frolicsome it was, still feeding from mother and getting periodically groomed by her. One day she left it alone on the lawn for a day – parked in the irises at the back of the “lawn,” where it sat perfectly still until she returned. (Editor's Note: this is a safety mechanism allowing the doe to gather food without exposing the fawn to danger – once told by mommy to “stay,” a fawn will NOT move even if you go right up to it, though of course we didn't try.)

So…I actually spent most of my week at home lying most languorously on my bed reading, getting sick, taking the GRE’s, getting well, discovering that my new computer didn’t have a sound card and therefore responded “What is sound?” when you tried to tell it about these things called speakers, then discovering that in fact it just needed to be restarted, and finally getting up at 3:00 (AM) to leave for Duluth, but I will pretend that all I was doing was looking at moths, because moths are cool and I don’t feel like writing about that other stuff.

My masterful moth-manipulating methods include leaving the lights on. And then going outside. To look. Here are some moths:

The weird blue thing visible through the window is an ultra-special UV mothing light. (Ordinary lights work too, but this is more chic.) There really are a lot of moths here, even if you can’t see them all. As in, several hundred flying around and crawling up the glass. I have a flashlight and a white shirt, so they also fly around and crawl up me. Inside my shirt, through my hair. This night, I actually inhaled a small moth - alas. And they are also all over the walls of the house and on the ground, so one must be most careful when one walks.

There are a lot of species of moths. Over 10,000 in the US. I’ve found 529 of those at my house - so far. Many are big. Many are brightly-colored. They are, of course, all beautiful! (I confess I do find some moths rather drab and non-beautiful, but I think that is mostly my failing.) Anyway, here are some of the moths from this night:

Luna Moth (think of Lunesta commercials) on my hand. There were two more as well flapping around the light. They are really VERY big.

Waved Sphinx settled on the wall. When it is flying, it is quite drastically fast and powerful, whizzing around and resembling a bat (that thick body is filled with flight muscles that also enable it to be endothermic…).

The Bad-wing (on the left) and Rosy Maple Moth (on the right). The Bad-wing is called that because its hindwings (the lower ones) are very small and some entomologist apparently didn’t think that was proper.

My masterful method for moth capture involves plastic sandwich bags. And refrigerators. Moth in bag in refrigerator. This works. Moth metabolism masterfully manipulated (i.e., the moth settles down). Then I can photo it. I caught one moth this night, since I hadn't seen it before. Then I identified it and released it. Here it is for posterity:

A moth I am really excited about, called Kent's Geometer (photographed the next day). It doesn't object to being on my finger because the fridge made it ever so sedate.

Thus is mothing conducted... The night ended with me going inside, finding a moth on my hat, depositing it outside, and going back to bed (it was 3:30 AM - getting up in the middle of the night is good from one standpoint because the moths have accumulated by then at the lighted window; normally I like sleep more than extra moths).

Please pretend that this is the story of the last few days of my life. It might have a moral.

Moral: Moths, what ho!


  1. You're adorable, as is the fawn. :) and also glad you figured out the blog login thing.

  2. You should not ever take my brother mothing... he would be less that thrilled by the idea of moths in all that hair of his, he might never get them all out. I, on the other hand, might be convinced if promised enough obscure varieties :P

  3. My little sister's only genuine phobia is of moths and butterflies. She can't stand them.

    THIS IS SUCH A COOL POST! The fawn is super cute and I want you to take me mothing ASAP :)

  4. Davie, I miss you and your creature-themed gerunds! Maybe I can join you birding when we all get back? Hope you and Noah are enjoying Duluth :)