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Calhoun’s “Cup-o-Moth”

(wc 928)

Coming home from choir practice last night, we had to stop and fill the car’s gas tank.  (BTW, prices have been dropping quite nicely the past few weeks!  We are paying more than $.50 less per gallon than we did in April!)

Getting back in the car after pumping the gas, Ashley, looking at the concrete pavement by the driver’s side door, said, “Look Paula!  Here’s a beautiful moth!”  I unbuckled my seat belt to lean over and look at it.  It was indeed beautiful, not like any I have ever seen.  It was in shades of orange and brown with stripes and dots.  Unusual – at least to me.  It appeared quite dead, and Ashley pointed out a smudged orange spot on the pavement, next to the large, motionless moth.

“I’m afraid I may have stepped on it when I got out of the car,” Ashley said, and I answered him, “Oh, I don’t think so – with an insect that large I think you would have seen it, or felt it under your shoe.”  The moth was in seemingly perfect condition, and because, once again, I did not have my camera with me, I asked him to grab a paper towel from the “window washer bin,” in which to wrap it, so we could take it home and I could set it in the grass and photograph it.  Hubs had a better idea.  Finding an old tall paper cup in our back seat, he gently scooped up the lifeless creature and put it in the cup.  Immediately we both knew that it was still alive, because it changed its wing position on its own.

I sat in the car with the cup in my lap, and since it was most likely dying, I did not bother to cover it with my hand.  At about minute 6 into our 10 minute drive home from the gas station, I heard a rustling noise coming from the cup.  It was definitely coming back to life – apparently it had been stunned, but not killed.  I was delighted, but also concerned that it might be mortally injured, and dying a difficult and lingering death.  By minute 9, I knew that death was not imminent, because the beautiful moth was starting to struggle more and more to work its way to the top of the cup, and to fly out.  Neither Ashley nor I thought that would be a good idea in the car, so I slapped my hand over the top of the cup, and for that last minute, felt it struggling up the vertical sides of the cup, and then anxiously fluttering its wings against the palm of my hand, then fall back down to the bottom, and then try again..  It wanted OUT OF THAT CUP!

When we got home, I told Ashley that I would have to run inside and get my camera off the tripod following last night’s “Great Firefly Photography Catastrophe.”  I had not even put the flash card back in, so I ran (HAH!) up the stairs, grabbed the card, came back down, put it in the camera, and got back outside quickly.  I was certain my model would be gone.

When I got out of the car with the “Cup-o-Moth,” I decided that until I could get my camera, I would invert the cup on the grass, and keep it covered there until I could come back outside and photograph it before letting it go.  The cup was far lighter than the moth, and I knew that if I did not weight it down somehow, it would easily knock it over and fly out and away.  So I got a rock, small enough not to crush the cup, but heavy enough to hold the cup down so the creature could not get away.  Being on the grassy earth, though, the “cage” was a little wobbly with that rock, but I did as well as I could with it, crossed my fingers, and went inside to get my camera.

When I came outside, the moth was still alive, still struggling to get out of its temporary prison.  I quickly set up the camera for some standard shots (they came out only OK, but at least you can see a bit of how beautiful the moth is, and how messy the outside wall is), then slowly bent down to lift off the rock and uncover the moth.  I was hoping against hope that it would stay still long enough to get its bearings, before taking off without giving me a chance to photograph it.  But, that is almost precisely what happened.  It immediately flew up and straight into my face.

I brushed it away as gently as I could and it took off for the cobwebbed corner of the garage’s soffit, to which was mounted a bright security light.  Like a “moth to a flame,” my friend went for that light.  It attached itself to the wall next to the light, and “parked.” So, despite that bright light, I tried to maneuver myself around well enough to get some photos of it.  Not as pretty a setting as I had pictured in my mind, but some pictures nevertheless.

I have not yet researched the type of moth it is – if you know, then fill me in!  In the meantime, all of you can get a glimpse of this beautiful insect.  I wonder if it’s at all grateful for being rescued from certain death?  Being crushed beneath the wheels of a car was almost a guarantee if we had not removed it from the spot Ashley found it.  It doesn’t really have to thank us. . .letting me take its picture is enough. . .

It’s time to pressure wash the outside of the garage. . .after the moth leaves, of course!