Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mystery moth

Does anyone know the name of this moth? She came to the window a couple of nights ago, as we dined on ensalada verde and maduro con frijoles and almost-ripe cherimoya; and she fluttered and flapped desperately. She slapped the glass with her wings. She sought the light up and down. I snuck into the flowerbed to capture her with a large kitchen strainer – not to keep but to admire. I held her against the glass so we could really see her. And then released her to continue her pummeling of the glass. I was mystified because she appears to have holes her wings, portholes or windows. But why would a moth need perforated wings? Could it be because her wingspan was so large, approximately 8 inches, and she needed to reduce her flying weight? How did we arrive at this measurement? Scientifically of course. Lauren said, “I didn’t get a good look but I think 6 inches.” CSB stated, “13 inches.” Revered mother of mine indicated that her handspan is 9 inches. Did this help? Aged forgetful father posited 4 inches. I took a stab at 8 inches. This is science.

I did not take the above picture, I swiped it from a Google image search as most closely resembling what we saw, and no name was affixed. In The Butterflies of Costa Rica (Philip DeVries, PUP, 1987)I have found a couple of possible candidates: Eryphanis Polyxena lycomedon and Caligo eurilochus sulanus. I think the latter is most likely - also known as the Giant Owl Butterfly. But if it was a butterfly, then why was it flying at night, craving the light?

1 comment:

Rebecca Rice said...

I love that your entire family was engaged in the project to measure this moth's wings.