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Friday, 25 January 2013

The Moth

By Joyce Benedict

Walking out of my apartment one morning to the parking lot, I was startled to see flopping on the pavement what appeared to be a huge butterfly. Upon closer scrutiny it seemed more moth-like with its shades of browns and beiges. I had never seen one so large. I learned that it was a luna moth.

My heart went out to it. The pavement was hot and it was obviously wounded and unable to fly. What to do? That ancient dilemma: leave Nature alone, let its destiny play out, or save it. If save it, what to do?

I opted for saving. Perhaps it was recently stunned. To avoid another car in the parking lot running over it, I took a magazine from my car, scooped it up and removed it to the shade of a very large bush nearby. In time, it would recover and fly away.

As I went in and out over a day or two the giant moth remained under the bush. Some years ago, a pair of guinea hens adopted the apartment complex and it occurred to me as they continuously foraged the surrounding lawns, they might discover the moth and eat it.

The “savior” in me got another magazine and removed the moth to a potted plant on my deck. Each summer my deck is pregnant with flowers and I enjoy beauty at its best including the visits of hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and dragonflies and the guinea hens in the winter.

Now that I had a closer look at this amazing moth, I was quite fascinated to observe its large furry body and strange face with eyes that seemed to be observing me! Its face had long, mustache-like tendrils cascading down, giving it the appearance of a wise old Asian.

We made contact, that moth and I. I explained to it I hoped that it would survive. I wished it could convey to me what it needed or what further I should do.

The next day I discovered it had fallen from the planter. I decided to put the little creature in a large saucer on my deck in a shaded area. The dish had grooves for water.

Absolutely clueless as to what it ate, I put flowers I plucked from my many beauties near it to attract some flying insects. The moth was alive, but something simply prevented it from flying away. I hoped soon I would see it recovered and gone.

The day passed. An occasional glance the moth’s way, saw him moving, but no improvement.

The next morning I arose at my usual time around 6:00AM. I went out to my deck to see my strange moth. What I soon felt was shock, turning quickly to sadness. During the night, a horde of ants had traveled up to the second floor, to my deck and had devoured the moth, save for some wing parts.

What unseen intelligence had told those ants that a dying creature was on my deck? I never had ants on my deck. Never!

I contemplated the mystery again. Should I have left the creature in the parking lot? Left it under the bush out front? Should I have put it elsewhere?

I was deeply saddened for that moth as I had made a connection with it. It had a face with eyes that observed me. I had spoken to it and had said a simple prayer that it recover.

That part of life we don’t wish to acknowledge, namely, the rawness, the eye-for-an-eye element, the eat-or-be-eaten rule had triumphed again. Death was smelled. Nature wastes nothing. The ants had a meal in order to survive for one more day.

I wanted to have been the savior of that huge moth. I wanted to believe I was an instrument of some higher being that loved that moth and wished for its protection and well-being. I wanted to believe that I made a difference that day, that I touched a life, that life touched me.

It did. The outcome was simply not as expected.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A very unique story Joyce; I would never have thought of a moth/human nexus. This was a delightful vignette.

Joyce, This was a beautiful story--I think I might have done the same thing after taking a few dozen photos of it! I know you are a lovely photographer--where are the photos?

Just lovely..It's good to respect nature and the creatures , I bet every reader will have some memory of taking home a frog or saving a bird, a moth is a first I've heard of, so good job..Who knew ants eat moths..city kids low on the nature scale....We do see ants more than moths..big event once in a while on a city street when a butterly appears..nice reading this..

Bless your heart! This is a good example of "unintended consequences". Despite our good intentions, nature will take its course.If it's any consolation, luna moths don't eat as adults; in fact they have no mouths! Once they emerge, they live only for about a week, and then only for the purpose of mating and continuing their life cycle. Here is a link to a short video demonstating their entire life cycle.


Joyce, I can relate to this story. I've rescued turtles and tree frogs and other frogs and a bird which fell down a chimney and many spiders.

I seem to have a knack for it. My husband calls me a frog-whisperer.

Joyce, I had the same experience. I rescued the moth and then the ants came. The second time I found two luna moths mating inside our screened in patio. Over a few hours the plump body of the male shriveled to nothing as the female expanded. He finally fell lifeless to the floor. She allowed me to pick her up and release her to the night sky. I learned through research that these gorgeous creatures live for one night. They have no mouths, so can neither eat nor drink. They emerge from their cocoon at sunset and with those enormous antennae can "smell" a potential sexual partner FIVE miles distant. They mate for a few hours, the female goes off to lay her eggs and the male falls to the ground, spent. Once the eggs have been laid the female falls, but does not die quickly. But she can no longer fly, and soon the ants come and her cycle is finished. She goes to feed the young of the ant.

Well who would think a moth would encourage such a volume of comments? Just shows how we are all connected, and the tiniest of creatures each have their own agendas and purposes. I think I am glad I am human, instead of a moth.

Like Joanne, I am glad I'm a human but I did enjoy your story and then all the history about moths in the comments. I am amazed at how much we can learn by reading the stories on Ronni's blog.

Ah, yes, Ants. Nature's janitors. What inspirational comments here.

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