I met a wingless moth one day. She rested comfortably on her back with a blanket of afternoon sunshine lying atop her still form.
“Pardon me, ma’am,” I said, “but are you quite certain it’s safe for you to rest here? I almost stepped on you, and most assuredly you will make a tasty treat for either bird or mammal should you remain.”
She replied, “Kind sir, unlike my Cyclopic cousin, I lack wings and therefore cannot flutter away. Worse yet, should I land in a rather undignified position such as this, how do you think I might right myself and continue with my day?”
I stared blankly, feeling confused and bewildered. Embarrassed, in point of fact.
“Dearest person,” she continued, “I but ask one simple question: Having enjoyed the company of a man and being in a family way as it were, I do not rest here for my health. A wee bit of clumsy climbing has left me in this predicament. Would you be so kind as to right me? Or am I not pretty enough?”
“On the contrary, madam, you are indeed a splendid beauty. I shall set you aright this very moment.” And then I did just that.
“But if I may,” I asked, “isn’t this an unsavory view?”
Her guffaw echoed across the lake. Yet it felt more like a scoffing laugh than a tickled one. Only when she regained her composure did she amend the cackle: “Unless you’re wounded, you have no one to blame but yourself for ogling my behind.”
My cheeks flushed with red. So I stood.
Even as I paused to appreciate her apparent plumpness, she pondered aloud, “We come in all shapes and sizes. Am I so alien?”
“I humbly apologize for staring, kind lady. It’s just that I have never seen a moth like you.”
“We are moths. Even I, wingless and flightless and different, am a moth. You find us in your fruit bowls, in your carpet, trying to survive where we can. Yet no matter where you find us and what we look like, we are moths. It’s all about diversity, dear. That’s the spice of life.”
“I ask for your pardon, young lass. I meant no offense by appreciating your visage. It seems, however, to me at least, early in the season for one such as yourself to be so heavy with child—er, uh, children, I mean.”
“It’s never too early,” she responded, “never too early at all. It’s never a question of season or location; it’s always a question of observation. Even old favorites fill new seasons. All you need do is look.”
She then began climbing again. I chuckled at the sight of her dragging her form against gravity’s pull. And I wondered if perhaps a similar attempt had preceded our encounter.
She inquired as she clung to her precarious perch, “This is your patio, is it not?”
“Why, yes it is.”
“Then perhaps I would offer that you should visit it more often. Persistence pays off and opportunity for discovering new things often hides in familiar places. And we can surprise you by showing up when you least expect us.”
It was then she began to slip, her grasp upon the painted wood failing to hold her weight. Just as she fell, I reached out and caught her, then I placed her gently upon the ground.
A wry smile crossed her face as she finished, “Besides, do you think I flew here from a foreign land, or perchance do you think I’ve been around a while? Maybe I am not the stranger here.”
And with a final glance at me, she brushed herself off before venturing upon a safer path.
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Photos and video of a very pregnant, very flightless female woolly gray moth (a.k.a. pine barrens lycia; Lycia ypsilon).