Death of a moth

Today I decided to do a load of washing. Washing here dries in an hour, as the sun is bright and hot and the wind blows strongly.

I stepped into the laundry to spot-treat my clothes at the tub, and was attracted by a tiny whirring noise at the corner of the window. There, suspended by a gossamer-fine thread, was a moth, about the size of a 10 cent coin, fluttering its wings, trying to escape. Above it, hanging upside down behind a messy tangle of web, was a daddy longlegs. I watched as the moth struggled against its death, and resisted the urge to free it. After all, the spider had caught it, and needed to eat. Who am I to say the moth’s life is more important than the spider’s?

As I rubbed and rinsed my clothes, I kept looking across at the moth. After a while, it would stop and hang, its wings folded, resting, exhausted. Once or twice the spider made a move, perhaps to try and secure the web against the storm his dinner was creating. But the spider would then retreat, and resume waiting.

The moth was pretty, mostly grey markings on its delicately segmented wings, with orange highlights.

I tried to capture the spider on camera, but my little Olympus couldn’t get more than a blurry image of him. I say him; it may well have been her. I went back in when my washing was finished, and the moth was still fluttering. It took a long time to die. An hour later, when I brought my washing in, here it was, hanging, wings outstretched. If I were a poet, I would write an elegy for it. It fought bravely, suspended above a cake of sunlight soap. The tiny spider watching, inscrutable, the messy web, the whirring wings, the yellow soap, were a small act in the theatre of life.

When I went back in just now, nothing had changed. I wonder if the spider will wait till nighttime to eat. I shall look again in the morning.

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2 Comments

Filed under life and death in nature

2 responses to “Death of a moth

  1. Love your shared theatre of life.

    • Christina Houen

      Hi, Winsomebella

      It’s nice to stop one’s thoughts and just watch the life that teems around us. I was sitting outside the laundry sipping a glass of wine last night, and heard a fluttering; I went in and there was the poor moth, frantically flapping its wings again; part of one wing had fallen off. Perhaps that was its death throes, and surely the spider knew it was not dead and had not moved in earlier. This morning, it is still hanging there, but a larger daddy longlegs (probably mummy longlegs, with a fat abdomen) was attached to its body, though I couldn’t perceive any movement suggesting it was eating. The daddy had withdrawn and was down below the cupboard searching for more prey.

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