Columnist: “The day the Queen (or King) Moth-er came to visit”
By Julie Miles
Maybe it started with the movie “Doctor Doolittle?” Sitting spellbound in a darkened theater as a wee thing, I watched as Rex Harrison soared back to England across the moonlit ocean astride a Giant Lunar Moth. Yes, maybe that’s why I suppose moths (not icky, brown common ones) I mean those big velvety nocturnal monsters of color, grace and mod graphic design are the most magical creatures of flight.
Last week, I experienced a visitation of sorts. Coming home, I saw him (or her), a gorgeous five-inch wide yellow and brown moth, serenely resting beside our door. Before thinking I uttered, “Hannah, look.” Now, I always try to think twice before pointing out a helpless insect to a child. Once their presence revealed, a tiny pen and “next of kin” notification form should be placed in front of them – for they are about to be “loved” to death. But this time, an astounding thing happened. My seven-year-old just stared…standing motionless. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
The Bible refers to entertaining angels unawares and I couldn’t help but wonder what manner of mystical being clung to the west siding of our humble abode? Photographing our guest, we compared it to other moths on the Internet. “No, no, no.” Then suddenly, there he (or she) was an Eacles Imerialis; an Imperial Moth. We weren’t entertaining an angel; we hosted ROYALTY!
Hannah looked upon the King (or Queen), “Maybe he is tired. His mother probably made him do a lot of chores. Maybe he’s dead? Maybe he is waiting on a friend? Should we feed him food?”
Food! Was my daughter contemplating this creature as a possible pet? I needed help. Once again, I received a supernatural answer. We stumbled upon a web site delineating the capture, mating, incubating, and housing of Imperial moths. Intrigued to say the least, I emailed our questions. And Moth Maven, Liz Day of Indianapolis, IN enthusiastically responded. Sending Liz our photo, she confirmed that indeed he (or she) was an Imperial. We learned that adults don’t eat. Liz wrote, “No mouthparts. They live off their fat…then die.” (Dreadful for them, but possibly quite good for me.) Let’s see, mute and no food costs, this pet thing could work. Unfortunately, Liz couldn’t identify the sexuality of our new pet with its antennae folded back in our picture. Our fellow must be a shy royal, a dashingly sensitive Prince William type rather than a colorful, randy Prince Harry. Her note ended, “If you’re seeing one, there are others out now that other people might see.”
So consider yourself on notice Madison, look carefully about so you won’t miss your own winged encounter. Whether Imperial moths or angels -- how truly sad to be caught unawares.