We found this colorful character on the wall outside the dining hall yesterday afternoon.
I didn’t have my camera on me when we found him, but I when I got off work I grabbed it and returned to take some photos. (When a moth like this goes into torpor for the day it stays in one spot. It’s basically asleep.) The picture doesn’t do him justice; he had a wingspan of about four inches.
Thanks to the wonder of the internet I managed to identify the critter as a male Imperial Moth, Eacles imperialis. (And you thought my referring to it as “him” was just whimsy!) Imperial – what a great adjective. An emperor among moths.
What is it about big, showy moths that’s so captivating? Is it the fact that they’re nocturnal, living out their moth lives in an environment (night) totally foreign to us? Finding something like this is a maddening, fascinating reminder of the big unknowable world out there. It shakes us out of our complacency. Or it does me, anyway.