Pupy, All Grown Up
By Mona Luo (06/01/14 22:04:11)
Related animals: Pupa, Polyphemus Moth

I picked up Pupy on August 22nd, and on May 25th, 9 months later, he emerged a beautiful and healthy moth.

When I made the move from home to school during September I packed him up in a little glass jar surrounded by tissues to keep him safe. For the next 8 months he sat in my room with little change. Sometimes I forgot he was there, other times I worried that he was dead, and every now and then I would give his jar a little tap to see if he would wiggle and do his little dance. When May rolled around I began to check on him more frequently. I knew he was supposed to come out soon, but I didn't know exactly when. In preparation for his emergence I moved him to a larger box so he would have room to stretch his wings when he came out.

The day before we left for our weekend trip to the island the skin of his casing turned very dark and almost papery to the touch. I knew he was about to come out. Briefly I considered an emergency c-section so that I would not miss his coming out, but then abandoned that idea. In the end I left him with my boyfriend to babysit and went to the island where there was spotty cell reception at best. On Saturday evening I found out that Pupy had emerged the night before and a very blurry, low resolution picture of him hanging from the stick I placed in his box. I didn't think there was much that could make me want to leave the beautiful island, but apparently seeing my little moth-baby was one of them. When I finally got back and saw him it became apparent that he was not little at all. It was strange to see his pupal casing that I had grown so familiar with torn open, sitting on the bottom of the box. Instead of my plump, wriggly little brown thing, there was now a beautiful, furry moth. I didn't want to let him go, and I will admit a part of me wanted to preserve the moth like in those insect collection mounts. And so, he sat in my room for a day because I could not bear to let him go. I felt guilty about not setting him free, but sad at the thought of seeing him go. However, I knew time was ticking because the moths only live a few days.

On Tuesday evening I brought him outside. I let him crawl onto my hand and lifted him out of the box, but he did not attempt to fly away. Then I placed him on a nearby plant and he still did not move. He just sat there with his wings spread flat. With him sitting out there in the open I worried that some bird would snatch him up as a tasty meal or a person would come by and claim him as their own, so I put him back in his box and brought him back to my room again. I still did not want to let him go. But around 11 o’clock in the evening for some reason he began to flap frantically. The sound of his wings beating against the plastic sides of the box filled me with so much panic and anguish that I rushed him outside. I opened the top and he flew out. He flew spastically in the air. I was on the 3rd floor bridge between the houses of my dorm. He crashed into the roof over and over again and it pained me to see that, but eventually he found his way to open air. Eventually he alighted on the wall and simply sat there. Then I remembered that that’s what moths do. They sit a lot. And so I had to force myself to let him be. He was certainly conspicuous sitting on the white wall under the bright lights. I check on him a handful more times before I went to bed, but each time he had not moved.

When I went to class the next morning I saw that he was not on the wall anymore. A strange wave of relief washed over me. It felt as if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But then, as I walked down the stairs I saw him sitting on the side of the suspended walkway. I started worrying again about his getting eaten and the such. When I came back from class he was gone for good, but that sense of relief was gone, I just felt a little strange and sad.

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My little baby, all grown up.
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