It took several days to catch the wayward moth. It had been free in the house for awhile and always managed to avoid capture. Now don’t get me wrong, I love freedom and all living creatures. But I also value my drapes, clothing and white walls as well. It was a joy watching this insect grow and develop but his adulthood is another story.
My son, Tony, was instrumental in getting the family a pet moth. One chilly autumn day, he came running in the house with a banded woollybear caterpillar climbing up his arm. We giggled as the active fuzzy critter climbed and traveled upon any surface we placed it. The striped black and brown caterpillar seemed intent on getting somewhere – anywhere – in a hurry. Always seizing opportunities for learning, I grabbed the insect book from the shelf and related that the Banded Woollybears are common in our New Hampshire woods and also called, Isabella moth caterpillar. Eventually the insect hibernates as larvae and pupates into a moth in the spring. Armed with this knowledge, Tony dubbed his buddy, Izzy. Whenever a critter gets a name it becomes a pet. And it’s destined to be yours.
Keeping Izzy wasn’t a big deal. We already were a proud family with a dog, a cat, two iguanas, three aquatic frogs, many goldfish, four parakeets, seven finch, two cockatiels, a half dozen red newts, a white bunny and an albino ferret. A caterpillar wouldn’t be much bother and wouldn’t live long, anyway.
At least they never lasted long when I was a kid.
So Tony cased my store of mayonnaise jars, found the perfect one and hammered a few holes in the lid. He carefully nudged the caterpillar in it, along with a few blades of grass and some brown, dry leaves.
That night, in front of our very eyes, Izzy spun a golden cocoon around himself.
My son brought the jar with the cocoon to CCD class that weekend. He shared the story of the caterpillar turned pupae. We talked about the creativity of God and the many stages of life an insect, animal and even humans have. Then, Tony brought it home and put the jar and cocoon on the shelf in his room. Over the long winter months Izzy was forgotten. Until last week.
As the Spring sun cast warm beams through the kitchen window, promises of season change and new life announced itself. Tony came running into the room with the dusty jar bouncing in his hands.
“Mom look!” he shouted. “The golden cocoon has broken open and there’s a bug in the jar!”
Close inspection revealed that the “bug” was a tired new moth whose wings had not yet spread.
The poor moth got dragged to CCD again the day that we were discussing Christ’s passion, death and glorious resurrection. Throughout the class, metamorphic Izzy’s wings stayed clamped against him. I warned my son not to open the jar. All through class my obedient little boy kept the lid on. He insisted that his friends keep the lid on. But the minute Tony got home, the lid came off. And not by Tony.
I did it. I couldn’t help myself. When I was a kid, caterpillars never spun a cocoon and metamorphosed into a moth. My critters always died like a shriveled-up twig. I wanted to see this miracle close-up, not through the confines of glass.
Of course, as soon as the lid was lifted off, the moth decided to try his wings. He remained free and unseen for three days. Everyone in the house had strict orders that if he should appear, no one was to swat Izzy.
I spied the moth occasionally during the day but was unable to catch him. Izzy flittered around the house more at night, but always managed to escape our grasp. It was now, shortly before Tony’s school bus is scheduled to arrive that I finally caught the little critter. His gentle flutter in my cupped hands tickles.
Now that I have the newborn moth in captivity again, I feel guilty. Through the many stages of Izzy, our family has seen a miracle of nature close up and personal, not through a book or television documentary. Doesn’t this creature of God deserve more than life in a jar?
So when Tony gets home, we’ll release Izzy outside. The circle of life will be complete.
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