Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Moths

     This week's Summer Solstice brought the excitement of moths. Yes, moths. On a short walk Wednesday morning I came across the largest moth I've ever seen. The wingspan was pushing 4 inches.

antheraea oculea - Oculea Silkmoth

     It was very exciting to see something so beautiful taking rest at my eye level in a short Ponderosa Pine. I felt like I was seeing something I shouldn't, a creature of the night caught sleeping in the open.

     After that experience I wanted to set up a sheet and light in the evening to try to attract more moths for close inspection and photographs. Last night the kids and I set up our potential viewing area. We snapped a few very mediocre shots of some moths that would have come just as readily to our porch light.

     Dejected and scheming to procure a more powerful light and a whiter sheet I settled in for the evening. A few minutes later my wife heard a rattling sound outside our bedroom window. I was, of course, dispatched to handle the disturbance. Amidst the toys, bikes, and art supplies on the porch was a struggling moth of decent size. I coaxed it gently from against the house and held it loosely in my hand as it fluttered wildly. My oldest daughter retrieved my camera and I took a few shots while holding the now calm moth as it stood content on my thumb. 

smerinthus cerisyi - One-eyed Sphinx

      After we had a long look I released our fat little friend into the air with a push. I felt a tug at my skin upon release. Fearing the worst, a leg segment left behind in a knuckle's crease perhaps, I examined my hand under the porch light. There I found three neatly laid eggs. Looking further I found two more on another finger.

     I was amazed and humbled to have been entrusted with these tiny pale green jewels containing future moth lives. I gently removed the eggs and deposited them neatly on the nearby vegetation in hopes that their mother's trust had not been misplaced.


Anonymous said...

Your first moth was a Polyphemus moth - great shots of a beautiful insect!

Also, how wonderful to be entrusted with those eggs! Thanks for trying to find them a good home!

Michele Brosseau said...

The photographs are amazing, but it was the writing I found most beautiful.

Linda Starr said...

oh my goodness what a lovely moth but the eggs an extraordinary experience. I must try your sheet and light trick since I just know I have some wonderful moths around here, if only I can bring them out so I can photograph or even see them.

Eugene Brosseau said...

Regarding the identification of the first moth; it is my understanding that, in Arizona, Polyphemus is a rarity. After some brief research I concluded that it was instead Oculea, quite common here and strikingly similar to Polyphemus.

Thank you all for the kind remarks!