Well, God concluded one of our hardest weeks with a little comic relief. We were folding clothes and chatting when a large winged creature flew in through the open kitchen window last night and started flapping around on the floor. I immediately thought it was a small bird, like a wren or sparrow, but on closer examination, I realized it was a moth — undoubtedly the largest moth I had ever seen.
We’ve had birds in the house before, and the first time that happened I called animal control to come out and remove it. That amounted to taking a broom and “ushering” it out the nearest open window. I concluded that I could do that, and took care of subsequent feathered friend visitations myself.
But this was different. This was a moth, and I hate moths. It may be their ghostlike eyes, or their wormy bodies (they’re like flying maggots to me) or their dirty, dusty wings that leave dark blotches wherever you try and swat them, but I find all moths generally disgusting. Earlier this year I waged a week-long war with tiny pantry moths until I found they had established a small colony under the shelves in our pantry and I could finally eradicate them. Maybe this was those little guys fighting back by sending in the big uncle.
The odd thing is that my wife, Marti, has no fear of moths. This is true for spiders as well. I have to call her in for spider removal. So Marti immediately and calmly took over this situation. She went into the pantry and came back out with the dustbuster.
Now we use the dustbuster for lots of insects in our house. I used it exclusively for the pantry moths although I had to leave the dustbuster outside overnight because it has lost the little rubber flap that keeps stuff in, and I noticed that little moths that survived the initial suction would eventually crawl back out.
“It’s too big,” I said when I saw her wielding the miniature vacuum. “It will never fit in there! You’ll just make it mad and it will eventually dive-bomb me!” I swear this thing had an 8-inch wingspan. Marti only cast an incredulous look my way and proceeded to slide the dustbuster up to the ugly thing that was now sitting on our counter, and “Thwump!” it was sucked right up. No mess; no attack.
“Don’t turn it off!” I screamed, fearing it would fly right back out and get me. “Here, I’ll take it outside.”
Making sure to keep the dustbuster sucking, she gingerly handed it over and I took it out back and set it on the fence about 20 feet away from the house and ran quickly back inside.
“Where’s the dustbuster?” Marti said when she saw me come back in without it.
“I’m not going to let that thing crawl out in the house!” I said. “If he gets out, he’ll just fly away.”
“Or fly back in and get you!” she taunted. The thought gave me shudders.
“Maybe I should put it farther away from the house,” I said.
“Nonsense,” said Marti. “Why don’t you just empty it out in the trash can?”
“And risk it flying in my face? Nothing doing. I’ll be sure it’s dead before I do that.”
It occurred to me that our problems this week were in some way represented by that moth. Moths are usually small and manageable — certainly nothing to fear — but sometimes, like our problems, they can get out of hand. That’s when we need others to come to our rescue, even if it is just to have a shoulder to cry on. We can’t vacuum our troubles away, but someone else can stand with us and listen, and pray. That’s what our prayer warriors are here for. Don’t hesitate to call on them.
I decided to see if there was an official name for the fear of moths as in arachnophobia, which is fear of spiders, and sure enough there is: mottephobia. If you happen to be mottephobic, I encourage you to make sure you have a dustbuster handy. Better yet, I saw in a catalogue once a special hand-held insect vacuum that traps the little buggers in an inner chamber where they can’t get out. I’m going to have to get me one of those.