Friday, November 27, 2009

The moths who came in from the cold

BC's Lower Mainlanders will mark this on their calendars; Thursday, November 26th, it stopped raining. The sun shone. Patches of blue sky showed up between the clouds.

How long has it been now? Weeks. A shuttle driver told me the good weather is supposed to last through the weekend. Incredible!

I was out all day, getting the car serviced, then waiting around for the end of rush hour to drive home. The warmth of the day had dissipated by the time I got here; there was a chill wind. On the wall by the front door,  a dozen or so moths were sheltering from the cold. I haven't seen moths outside in ages, so I went in and got a few pill bottles.

The moths were almost comatose; I could pick them off the wall like ripe fruit. A touch, and they fell into the bottles. I collected far more than I needed, three or four to a bottle, just because of the strangeness.

They went into the fridge until I was ready to photograph them. When I took them out, they weren't moving, so I removed the lids of the bottles. And they woke up all of a sudden, and exploded! out of there. I had moths on the desk, moths climbing the lamps, moths on my camera, in my hair, on my face ... There were moth feathers on the camera lens.

I gave up all ideas of careful photos, with the lighting just so, and snapped away, whenever one came into range. Here are a few of the results:

On my desk

On a lamp post and wires

Against the light of the second lamp

The antennae on this one remind me of mountain goat horns.

Perky expression

On a lamp base

And then they all flew around and away. I saw one on the curtain a few minutes ago, but now they've all gone undercover.


  1. That's fun. I bet they were grateful for the warm spot to hide. Those thin-bodied geometrid moths are so quick to wake up. It's hard to say with their wings closed, but they could be Autumnal Moths, a species that flies in late fall, found in virtually every state/province.

  2. Winter moths are pretty much the only moths still out there in the Lower Mainland, and are most easily identified by the wingless females crawling up the same walls. Look around to see if you can find the females on the same walls for a more positive ID. They're a recent (1970's) invasive species to the West Coast. When I first saw them 15 years ago here, they were already quite prolific.

  3. Thanks, Seabrooke and Tim.

    I'll see if I can catch one to get a flat photo; they must be around here somewhere. I went outside last night, and found one adult, high up on the wall. I looked for wingless females, but there were none.


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