moth magic   16 comments

moth attempting to follow instructions on a folding ladder

For a number of years, I have enjoyed going out late in the evening to photograph moths. While still at our farm near Ottawa, many would come to a simple porch lamp on the front steps. Here at the house at Round Hill, I set an old bug zapper unit on a plastic adirondack chair, wrap the whole works in a plain white sheet, then turn the UV lamp on for a little while each evening. The air temperature is usually comfortable, the human-created background noise much reduced, and the night is filled with life as moths, caddisflies, stoneflies, beetles, and other flying and crawling insects gather around the lamp for the short while that it is lit. Here at Round Hill, it is usual to see at least four or five new species among the regulars, although some nights can be much better.

The atmosphere has always seemed restful to me as I study and photograph whatever comes to the light. Regardless of what stressful events are taking place in my life, time spent with the moths always seemed peaceful and meditative. After I’m finished shooting a batch of photos, I switch off the lamp and within minutes, most of the moths and other creatures have dispersed into the darkness of the night. Over the next day or two, I edit the photos, attempt to ID them, and put them up online in a gallery for that purpose. It has really been the moths that have helped me to regain some of the interest in insect photography that was lost when Don became ill and died. People often comment that I will eventually “get over” losing Don, but that’s not the reality of how things work when you lose the person you spent two-thirds of your life with. The most you can ever hope to do is to carry on, trying to find anything that interests you enough to keep going. As the saying goes, If you’re going through Hell, don’t stop! (which probably owes its origin to the Winston Churchill quote, “If you are going through hell, keep going”). That’s how life is for those who have lost someone they care about very much. You never get over it, you just learn to keep going in an attempt to keep the pain and sadness from dragging you down. It’s a struggle that is never far from your thoughts, especially for the first few years.

Anyhow, for me, the moths are like a form of magic medicine that keeps me marching onwards through Hell. So is working on this old house. Some might think that the house would be a form of stress — the way that one job turns into another and another – rather like opening chinese boxes. However, I find the challenge of trying to restore or repair parts of the house very helpful. Each day, I discover a new challenge, but also very often see the completion of something tangible that I’ve been working on. The same goes for seeing, photographing, and identifying a new moth species for this location. Perhaps all of this seems meaningless to others, but that’s of no concern to me. Besides, the moths are incredibly beautiful. The intricacy of their shapes and patterns is almost beyond the imagination. Last night, I had a first sighting at this location for the Lettered Habrosyne moth (Habrosyne scripta – Hodges #6235) – see below. Such a wonderfully marked moth with fine lines that can only be appreciated through magnification. Is it really any wonder that I enjoy studying moths?

Written by bev on July 6th, 2010