I found a moth at work today. It was just laying quietly on the floor, in a corner where it wouldn’t be trampled. Was it dead? I wasn’t sure.
Moths just fascinate me. I’ve always loved butterflies, with their bright colors they often looked like the flowers they flitted around. In fact, my devotion to butterflies (as well as birds) is so strong that I developed and currently maintain a butterfly/hummingbird garden at the local branch library.
I never fully appreciated moths until I saw an amazing looking Sphinx moth hanging on the screen door of my favorite luncheonette a couple of years ago. I began looking at them in a different way.
Most moths have a more subtle coloring than butterflies, in order to camouflage themselves or they disguise themselves to look like other insects or birds.
This particular moth was about 2 inches long, larger than most that I see around my house, with a lovely mottled brown color. It seemed obvious that his coloring was duplicating the brown bark of a tree. I touched him gently and he moved a little. He was alive. I felt the need to rescue him and get him back to the freedom of the out of doors, so I carefully slid a piece of cardstock under him and picked him up.
We made it outside successfully, he was quiet and well behaved, but just as I was carefully sliding him into a pot of geraniums and petunias at the back door of my workplace, he came to life and flew up at me.
I was startled by his sudden activity and by the bright red underwings that had appeared in flight. Whoa! What was that! The demure brown moth lived a secret life as a brazen hussy! I twisted and turned, trying to catch another glimpse of the brilliant wings but the moth fluttered around me just out of sight before flying off and was gone.
Working at a library has it’s advantages. I was able to figure out that this moth is called, obviously enough an underwing moth in the Noctuidae family. I did not have my camera with me and I doubt if I could have gotten a photo once it was in flight, so the picture below is from the website that gave me the the information I needed to make the ID. Even though it is a British site, I know that it is the same species. There are several more pictures, from eggs and caterpillars and several of the moth itself plus a lot of good information. Be sure to check it out.
Isn’t that just a stunning insect?