Posted by: Kate | August 20, 2008

Insects and their Contributions to Vehicular Hilarity

Twice, recently, the combination of insects and my minivan has led to unintended laughter, though somewhat more of the hysterical kind than a gentle tee-hee.

The first was a few weeks ago, and highlights just how dangerous shoe shopping can be.  I am not a shopper, though Willem will tell you I have more pairs of shoes than Imelda Marcos.  He’s wrong, of course, because where would I keep them?  My house is tiny.  But still, I have my fair share of footwear, except just one pair in each genre: sneakers, black dress shoes, brown clogs for work, etc.  I don’t shop often, for anything, because stores have two things: people and ways to spend money.  Both of which have the potential for serious annoyance.

Alas, in late May, I melted a pair of sneakers while on a camping trip.  Literally melted the soles, left them too close to the fire to dry out after a mud… incident.  So I needed new ones, and went out shopping after a staff meeting one Thursday morning.  Once upon a time, I wore a size 10, which was annoying but I could find shoes that weren’t horrifyingly grandmotherly.  Then I had two children, and some combination of the extra weight and the bones spreading and just plain luck meant that, while pretty much everything else returned to roughly its prebaby size after the births, my feet stayed bigger.  I’m now a size 10.75, just a shade bigger than a 10 1/2 (which rarely exists anyway) and a bit too small for an 11, so shoe shopping now involves people, ways to spend money, and ongoing angst about fit and comfort and something vaguely resembling style.  I’m no fashion icon (<– understatement!), but I want to like my stuff.

Thus it was that at 10:00ish on a Thursday morning, I was leaving the show store with a plastic  bag, in which there was a cardboard box, in which there was a pair of new sneakers.  I don’t, actually, like how they feel on my feet, but I am far too cheap to consider buying a second pair of sneakers in the span of a year, so I’ll ignore that for a while longer. 

As I stepped off the curb, I noticed something lying in the fire lane.  It was a Moth, though using the word “Moth” to describe this sucker is like using the words “office building” to describe the Pantagon.  It deserved a capital M.  It was h-u-g-e, and brightly marked, and frankly kind of cool to look at.  I mentally surveyed my available tools, ready to create a Moth Transportation System.  Like MacGyver only… me.  I determined that I could remove the shoes from the box, then remove the little cardboard inserts from the shoes, and use that as a pincers to place the Moth into the shoebox, bring shoebox full of dead Moth home, and be a hero to my science-minded and curiosity-filled children. 

The plan went quite well, right up to the moment when I grasped the wing with the faux-pincers, and suddenly the Moth woke up and flailed frantically about, a mere inch from my unprotected fingertips.  Silly me, I assumed that lying prone in a parking lot was a sign of death, but apparently it was just taking a nap.  But now it’s pissed, and we all know that if I let go of it, it will promptly fly to my face, latch on, and suck my frontal lobe out through my tear duct.  We know this. 

So, I stuck with the plan, though instead of placing it gently into the shoebox and carefully nestling it into the filler paper and easing the lid closed, it was more a process of throwing the sucker in there, cardboard pincers and all, slamming the lid shut, and hustling it into the minivan, giggling nervously the whole time.  I’m sure I was a hit for any random spectators, especially if they couldn’t see the Moth from where they were.  (Which would have been a truly great distance away, because this was a h-u-g-e creature.)

I drove home, and visibly jumped at every bump and whistle from the road or the minivan on the way, certain that each sound was the signal that the lid of the shoebox was being eased open, like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula coffin, and then this Moth was slowly, ponderously, evilly creeping up the back of my seat, ready to wrap its legs entirely around the circumference of my head and beating me cruelly with its dinner-plate-sized wings. 

Somehow, this didn’t happen, and we arrived home safely.  I left the shoebox in a shady spot on the driveway, so that it wasn’t in my house (I’m a knitter, I won’t deliberately bring a moth into my home) but also wasn’t on a slow-roast setting in the sun. 

I showed it to the kids, and they each reacted precisely according to their personalities: Jacob stood several feet away, gazed intently, and was happiest watching from inside the house.


Emily immediately picked it up, dubbed it “cute,” and held it until I insisted she leave the poor thing alone and come inside for lunch. 


We left the Moth in its box, lid off, while we went inside, and when we returned to check on it, it had flown away.  Perhaps it was just waiting for clearance from air traffic control, because it was certainly big enough to need aviation governance.

The second bug moment happened last week.  I was driving and talking to my mom on my cell phone, and those of you who live in certain states may have envy or concern over this but here in New Hampshire it’s Live Free or DIE, baby.  So we were chatting, and she had just told me some rather sad news.  Not terribly tragic, but sad for her, and I was using my sympathetic-and-soothing voice in response… right up to the moment when I started laughing hysterically and beeping the horn repeatedly.  It took a good two minutes for me to calm down enough to be able to explain, with nervous giggles bursting through, that a big, black dragonfly had landed on the steering wheel, and I used the box of tissues from under the passenger seat to beat it to death, and that’s why the horn got involved. 

I was eventually able to return to the appropriate level of solemnity and sympathy, but the moment was kind of lost.



  1. That *is a Very Impressive Moth.

  2. Okay, wait…, you like moths, at least enough to no beat them to death but dragonflies? Doomed? Must be a N.H. thing.

    That moth is Mothra’s baby. Did you ever see the early Godzilla movies? A moth bigger than the Manchester Courthouse, I imagine, was always the good guy in saving Tokyo or anywhere else G. Zilla picked on. Good for you, you may have saved the earth.

  3. I have no problem with dragonflies as a general rule, but when they’re big and black and sitting on my steering wheel, I get upset. I’m weird that way.

  4. That moth is awesome. Big insect on the steering wheel–my alarm would go off too. Dragon flies are cool–when they’re flying around the yard.

  5. Beautiful Moth I knew immediately it wasa type of silk worm moth. (The geek in me pops out at the strangest times.) Ever since I was little I have been captivated by insects, unfortunately my daughter is allergic to any bites & stings so I don’t get “THAT” into it anymore.
    Here is a link to the moth

  6. Moth? You sure that’s not some kind of bird?! (Okay, I can see it’s a moth. But WOW.)

  7. Thanks for the much-needed laugh. That moth is gorgeous. I saw a green one like that a few weeks ago and was amazed that it was real. I had never seen one in real life before.

  8. Laughing. No, guffawing. Thanks… that is indeed one gorgeous creature. I wonder if it has its own cloaking device??

  9. I love the way Emily’s nail polish is coordinated to the moth.

    But yeah, pretty funny stories. And you seem so together . . .

  10. I have a big smile on my face after reading your post.

    My daughter is phobic about moths. Even little tiny ones. I would hate to hear her reaction if your big ol’ moth were to cross her path. You might hear her scream all the way in New Hampshire from So. Calif.

  11. I will now be having nightmares about that moth. Even the teeny-tiny ones frighten me.

    And I probably would have crashed the car over the dragonfly.

    I don’t play well with insects…

  12. You’re actually brave to have still held onto the moth once you realized it was alive. I would have dropped everything and run off screaming like some lunatic. LOL.

  13. Excellent moth. It’s huge alright and very pretty. The only insect encounter I’ve had in the car involved a sun visor and a rather large huntsman spider. I sprang out of the car and called my dad to bring a flea bomb. An hour later, the car had been fumigated, and I was still standing at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and reluctant to drive.

    My brother in law has a pathological fear of moths, maybe I’ll send him the photo *cackle*


    i bet mom was thrilled…

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