Vignettes from the Wild
The Monster Moth
It was a warm, calm evening, with a soft breeze. We had just finished dinner on the veranda and were talking over the day when a strange noise approached quickly, and stopped. A rapid clicking sound, then silence. A tropical moth the size of a small bird, say a chickadee or cardinal, alighted near one of our outdoor lights. It sat there, flexing it's wings slowly. It's huge fiberous antenni flickered and twitched with interest, it's thorax, the thickness of a hotdog pulsed slowly.
Now Lisa is fairly level headed, a big asset on a boat, but when it comes to large tropical insects she takes exception to being in close proximity and promptly hit the ceiling. I am sure the boats anchored nearby thought there was an ax murderering running loose aboard. Shrieks and high pitched squeals resonated throughout the peaceful anchorage.
Having experienced this a few times in the past, the flying cockroaches of Pacific islands being the first, I knew my duty was not to laugh hysterically at her reaction and make useless guy comments like, "C'mon, it doesn't want to hurt you." or "Don't you want to touch it?" Having tried this approach, I can state with complete confidence that such missives serve only to put the speaker into the same category as the offending invader: freakish monstor.
On the flip side, I have learned that as a modestly muscled nerd type, the opportunity to save you damsel when she is in distress comes around about as often as Haley's comment. Carpe diem.
I jumped into action, grabbing a kleenex. It then hit me how silly that was. This bomber could eat the entire thing for breakfast. I punted and grabbed a magazine and rolled it up. This was going to be hand to hand combat, and when I did get the sucker, it was going to be messy.
As soon as I moved, he must have sensed my nefarious intent with his huge antennea. He took to the clattering wing, and sensing Lisa's revulsion went straight for her face. More screams. I grabbed a salty beach towel and threw it over Lisa's head and upper body to prevent another fly by. He fluttered around her for an eternity of seconds and then darted into the salon, bouncing around the various lights several times. You could feel the air stir with his massive wing beats as we went past.
Ah, ha. A plan faded into view. If I removed the lights, he would probably lose interest and leave, thus preventing me having to scrape his entrails off of some precious cushion or fixture. It wouldn't be quite the heroic victory a good smash would merit, but I wasn't sure I really wanted to clean up the leftovers.
Click, click. Off went the lights, one after another. Lisa was not happy. "What are you doing, where is he, I can't see anything!" Since she had taken her towel and buried herself under every available cushion, the idea that I had somehow impeded visibility was amusing, but I remembered the hard learned lessons of previous insect hunts, and explained my chivalrous intentions while managing to keep the grin out of my inflections.
I considered putting on a headlamp to hunt my quarry, but had second thoughts. The idea of a half pound exoskelital creature landing on my nose to get close to the light wasn't all that attractive, and besides the bug parts would end up on my face, which, while needing a wash, didn't need the enhancing and moisturizing benefits of said treatments.
It was dark, with or without cushions over ones head, so I resorted to walking about listening and waving my weapon in any likely places the dragon might be hiding. I heard the clicking again as it passed out the salon doors and out of the cockpit.
Wanting to play my nobel part to it's conclusion, I followed it out into the night, chasing the vanquished off the home front. I paused for effect and then claimed victory.
It really was a beautiful evening. A few puffy clouds were drifting lazily along against a backdrop of a million stars. The water was nearly flat, reflecting the sliver of a sparkling moon hanging weightlessly above the distant horizon,
I looked down. To my surprise there were splotches of goo on the back port transom. Yellow, with splat marks from a high velocity impact. With a head lamp on, I bent over closer to have a look.
There could be no doubt. The thorax was unmistakable, even though it had quivered it's last. There on my deck was the back half inch of the offending Lepidoptera.
Careful examination found other parts and pieces, a bit of leg there, some entrails here. I chortled under my breath momentarily fancying myself as a wizard of old, able to zap that which offended me into oblivion with a simple wave of my coiled catalog.
Then I looked up again. Our five bladed Eclectic Energy wind turbine was humming along, it's knife like blades whirring softly against a backdrop flickering stars.
The quiet hero type.