Dressed in red but not Santa

Christmas Night after everyone went home there was a tapping at my window.

At first I thought it was a big ass cockroach.   It was about two inches & flapping frantically against the screen.   I was about to go for my can of Brakleen (best roach killer, evar) when I realized that roaches didn’t have bright red bellies like this.   Upon closer inspection it was revealed that my visitor was a moth.

We see a decent amount of hawk moths in Honolulu.   Most of them are these brown & grey feathery things, some of them as big as birds.   I see a lot of the pink & green Oleander Sphinxes, but nothing with a red belly.   This moth wasn’t as big as a lot of moths I have seen, but quite colorful.   I decided I should get a few photos for later contemplation.

The lower set of wings on this moth are at least partially bright red, visually continuing the red markings on the sides of its abdomen.   The closest match to its markings that I can find on the web is the White Lined Sphinx.   I’m missing the horizontal beige line that is supposed to traverse its top set of wings, but the other markings seem consistent.

I caught it in a large jar (I held the jar up & tapped the screen; the moth flew directly in) & brought it inside in the hopes of getting some better photos, but it freaked out in the jar.   After a few failed attempts to get a clear shot at its underside, I took the jar outside & let it go.   It zoomed off into the dark.   It had run out of patience with me.

One of these days I am going to move to the mainland (or Canada!) & perhaps I’ll finally get to see a Luna moth.   But until then I can be fascinated with these guys.

There’s an Asian superstition that large moths are the spirits of deceased loved ones visiting, & this red moth reminded me of a childhood memory I’d forgotten for some time: my grandmother’s red suit.   Until I was 7, my parents & I lived on the mainland & my grandparents would visit when they could.   My grandparents’ visits were the highlight of my existence when I was that age.   My grandmother had a red pantsuit & it was my favorite (well, because it reminded me of Santa Claus) & she knew it, so would often be wearing it when they arrived so that I could pick her out at the airport from a distance.   I would feel so excited & happy when I first caught sight of her, in her red suit.   I’d forgotten about that.

Who knows.   If that was my grandmother, she’s probably pissed about the bottle.   Sorry about that.

1/12/2010 Update:   Apparently this is a Hyles Calida Calida moth.   =)


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