tattered faded wings
spread wide, a Luna Moth rests
in the hot half-shade
Another excessive heat warning today. Even in the dappled shade of one of our tall shagbark hickories it's 110 F/43 C. Midsummer, yet the hickory nuts in their green husks are already falling, littering the dry grass. As I walk through the shifting shade, something green catches my eye, but it's not a hickory nut.
It's a large, faded green moth with tattered wings. As I look closer at the eye spots on its wings, I figure it must be a Luna Moth, although only one of it long tails is still intact. It looks dead, spread out like that, not moving, and I wonder how it got to be so beaten up. But when I stoop down and touch it, the moth stirs and begins struggling through the grass. Even in its frazzled condition the Luna Moth is beautiful, with lovely eye spots and a purple edge on its silken green wings, a fuzzy white body, dark red legs, black face and delicate golden fringed attenae. But this moth is clearly on its last legs. After leaving its cocoon, a Luna Moth lives just long enough to reproduce before it dies. It has no mouth and cannot eat, so it only survives in its beautiful moth form for one week.
The moth is moving out of the shade into the full glare of the afternoon sun. I pick it up to move it to a shadier spot. The moth climbs along my hand and then flutters off, only to land on my pant leg. Slowly and carefully I walk to our front stoop and set the moth down on the stone step.
The moth marches forward and falls off the edge upside down. It wiggles its legs but it can't right itself. Gently I turn it over, but in the process, its remaining tail breaks off. I leave it to rest on a green patch of creeping thyme, which is incongruously putting forth tiny pink flowers in all this heat and drought.