We had been thinking that our cat, Her Excellency Katherine (informally “Kitty”), was slowing down in her work of capture and bringing in prey. She has snagged mice, rats, voles, various birds, and even baby snakes.
Many of these captives have escaped alive, partly because Kitty is a good hunter but a clumsy killer, and often due to the skilled intervention by the Fair Wendy. She has become increasingly expert at steering the creatures out an open door, or snaring them in a red colander, clapping a cloth over it and taking them outside. The maneuvers are perhaps inelegant, but effective. I’ve even snatched up a few wriggling black snake hatchlings & tossed them into the garden.
Monday night though, Kitty burst in with something very much alive, quite eager to resist, bird-sized and winged. As it flapped above and around us, Kitty chased it through the kitchen & living room, and we two-legged residents sprang into action.
Wendy grabbed her magic colander, and I followed, camera in hand. When the prey landed on a coat hanging on a rack, I got a clear shot: it was a large moth, mostly gray.
Gray and determined. Soon it was back outside, leaving Kitty to wonder how another of the snacks she hoped to parade for us and maybe share, had somehow eluded her grasp. But as she calmed down, my attention turned to identifying the moth, the first such creature she had presented.
Google helped, as did sites such as preserving-butterflies.org; and Moths of North Carolina. Their photos and taxonomies soon brought both similarity and a plain surprise:
Hello — meet the Quaker Moths.
No, I’m not making this up; and I had no earthly idea. In England, they’re mostly called Common Quakers, which I admit, frankly rubbed me the wrong way. But those are found mainly across the pond. In North America, more, er, common is the Distinct Quaker moth. Indeed. Here is a list of the Quaker moths confirmed as sighted just in our own Durham County (there are 99 more, counties that is, in North Carolina).
Hmm. Gray Quaker moth? Intractable Quaker moth? If they were reincarnated upright with two legs, I’d say I distinctly recall being on committees with them, or at least their karmic namesakes.
Was the moth that Kitty brought in one of those?
I’m not entirely sure. Bordered Gothics are another suspect, but they’re evidently not found in the USA.
If any reader is a moth aficionado and can help nail down this ID, we’d be grateful.
Personally, among non-bird flying things, I’m partial to butterflies; moths have often had a spectral, otherworldly aspect. But even with all the flowers in our now wild yard, butterflies have been very scarce this summer. And this particular visitation wasn’t expected by either us, or for that matter, the moth.
If I were a fantasy writer, I’d now be spinning a plot about Quakers being snared by some shapeshifter wizard and turned into oversized moths, then conscripted into a bizarre crusade against the Border Gothics, which will turn out badly for all (a sort of Lepidopteral Game of furry Thrones), unless they can be rescued and returned to their normal form as flitting committee-goers.
Hmmmm. Needs some work. But it’s hardly less weird than what the cat dragged in.