Yesterday Jeff spotted this large moth at rest above a doorway at the foot of a stairwell leading outside. We both took pictures but his turned out better so here it is.
You’re looking at a black witch moth which has a seven inch wingspan, the largest of any moth in North America.
One look at the moth and I was back in a bowling alley in Mexico City 66 years ago. We were staying in a large hotel (my parents and I) with a bowling alley on an upper floor. As Dad and I bowled a couple of games, I became distracted by the wings of countless insects flying against a window, summoned by the bright lights within. Some of the visitors were black witch moths, a new species for me then, and I couldn’t resist the temptation. I opened the window enough to reach out and catch two of the moths. In the process I allowed dozens of insects entrance to the bowling alley and immediately brought the manager on the run to close the window and let me know that windows were not to be opened at night.
It was not the first time I embarrassed my father with my need to add new specimens to my collection of butterflies and moths. A previous time was in front of a theater as we stood in line for tickets one evening. A freshly emerged polyphemus moth landed on the wall of the building a few feet above my head. I was six feet tall by then. It took some leaping but I managed to snag my trophy, which I held gently in my cupped hands throughout the movie so I wouldn’t smudge its beautiful scales. As I recall, I was much happier about the occasion than my dad, but to his credit he was his usual good sport about my habit of gathering trophies when and where I found them.
My thanks to Jeff as well as the black witch moth (which I left undisturbed above the doorway) for the flashback of loving memories of my dad that came as suddenly as beautiful moths through an open window.