On my way home last night, I stopped for gas. As I got back into my car and had my hand on the ignition key, something blew onto my windscreen. I thought at first that it was a bit of paper towel flying in the wind. The colour was the same, and it was a windy, rainy night.
I take several pictures, with and without flash. And somehow feel a need to share the moth with the woman pumping gas beside me. "Oh, really" says woman, who immediately turns back to watching the numbers on the gas pump, obviously not the least bit interested.
After trying to gently push the moth onwards, and feeling that he has his feet firmly suctioned to the windscreen, he suddenly flops over on his side, much like a cat will do when exhaustion takes over and a nap is needed. I thought he had keeled over and died. He could have been injured from the impact - a concussion, maybe. Though he was probably blinded and confused by the bright lights of the gas bay.
Another gentle touch to see if he moves on his own and he straightens up again and spreads out his wings.
Two teenaged boys walk over and they are quite interested in the moth.
One also takes pictures, with the other respectfully asking "can I touch it?"
I'd never seen anything quite like this before, and neither had they, which makes me feel slightly better about my ignorance. He has a fat furry body and lovely eyes.
Though, as I look later at the uploaded pictures I wonder about his antennae. It seems there's only one and he must be able to fold it back out of sight.
I get back in the car, and wait a moment or two, hoping he will fly off. He doesn't. So, ever so slowly, I drive out onto the street until eventually the wind picks him up and he disappears into the night. (thankfully, before I get on the highway)
When I get home, I'm pleased that enough of my pictures were clear enough to be able to identify the creature from other images of 'moths in Ontario'. Turns out he is an Antheraea Polyphemus Moth. One of our largest and most beautiful silk moths. The adult has a wingspan of about 4-6 inches and its most notable feature are the purplish eyespots on the hind wings. It's from these eyes that it gets its name Polyphemus - the giant son of Poseidon and the Cyclops Thoosa of Greek mythology. And he is a she. The males are much less pretty.
It's hard to fully see the giantness of this creature, so here is a picture I swiped off the internet with a quarter as a comparison.
Sadly, I also learned that the Polyphemus Moth only lives for about four days. I hope her eventual death was peaceful. Or at least quick.
Our World Tuesday