Friday, July 22, 2011

A Moth Tale

If bugs give you the heebies, this is not the blog post for you. I'm about to get real Bill Nye the Science Guy up in here.

My building is surrounded by trees, and there are always a few dead leaves on the walkway by my front door, but the other night as I was taking Makai out for a walk, I passed by a one leaf that struck me as strange.

This leaf was awfully symmetrical, and didn't look like any of the birch leaves that are usually on the ground. I stood there for a second, then squinted really hard, then ran back in the house and yelled to J something along the lines of, "You want to see the biggest fucking moth on the planet?!"

I grabbed the camera and very carefully crept up on it to snap a few pictures. The last thing I wanted was for this crazy thing to start flying around my face like a living nightmare, so I did my best ninja moves to get close.

We verrrry slowly scooted a dime up to it for scale. It wasn't moving much. I got a little stick to tickle its giant legs, it moved its antennae but didn't move its feet. It seemed kinda tired. I figured maybe it had just come out of it's cocoon and it's wings were wet? Total speculation here.

I showed the picture above to a friend and he said, "Are those neon toxic waste eggs behind it?" I said, "No, I think that's silly string or something left over from Fourth of July."


Nope! Those are totally eggs! I didn't even notice them until I was uploading the pictures a few days later and got a closer look.

The more we looked at it and poked at it, the less scary and more completely fascinating it became. And - I'm going to say it - kind of cute with its fat little caterpillar body. Just an awesome little creature. I started looking online trying to identify it, and it looks like it's a Blinded Sphinx moth.

I kept going outside to check on it, and when it didn't move the whole night I started to worry a little. There's a cleaning lady that comes by every week to sweep the walkways, what if she swept it away before it got to fly to safety? I'm aware this is a giant nasty bug I'm talking sweetly about here, but it's too late, I'm emotionally invested.

The next morning it had moved about 10 feet and was hiding under the railing. Much better. It was there when I got home from work, but gone by the next night. A few days after it left I thought about the eggs and went out to look for them. They were still there. I poked one and it was rock hard, they could probably survive the cleaning lady's broom.

Then I got a stupid idea.

It's been so cold this summer, what if those eggs never hatch? What if I could save them? So I scooped up about half of them, put them in a tub, and brought them inside.

Me: "Look what I got..."
J: "You're messing with mother nature."
Me: "I only took half!!"

If I happened to screw up and kill them, I didn't want to kill ALL of them. And if the ones outside don't make it, maybe the indoor kids will.

They are very tiny, maybe like a quarter of a pepper corn.

I've had them for about a week, and when I checked on them last night - still in the tub - I thought they were probably dead. I had read online that you should put them in a jar with a lid and close it tightly, so I moved them into a pickle jar (naturally) just in case and closed the lid.

That was last night.

They started hatching this morning.

What the hell kind of new project have I started? I have a jar of teeny tiny caterpillars in my kitchen. Ugh.

I think I'll let them get a little bigger and then will release them to an unknown fate. There's no way I'm keeping them until they are full on moths. That's much too Silence of the Lambs for me.

This one was the first one out and the spunkiest, marched all over the others as they were trying to hatch.

Kind of cute with its giant head. :)

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