Thursday, June 27, 2013

Like Giant Moths to a Flame

Colorful lamps in Tandag City baywalk
Numerous moths falling on the ground
Atlas moth?
On our second night in Tandag City, Albert and Minnie invited us to see the City's baywalk, which is one of the new attractions there.  Tandag's baywalk is way smaller than in Manila's Roxas Boulevard, but it offers cool fresh breeze coming from the clean Pacific Ocean.  The only similarity to Manila's baywalk are the fancy street lamps that display really bright colors (appealing to the masses but might be too flashy, at least in my book). But the small stretch do have its share of nightlife, in the form of restaurants luring people with grilled sugbu. We walked going to the baywalk.
Close up of moth
2 moths on one post
A weird thing happened on our way.  When we passed by a brightly-lit lamp post in an intersection, something big fell on my head.  It was not a heavy object but its size was startling.  But before I could check what it was, two more of the same thing fell in front of me.  When I gathered my composure and had the chance to examine the unidentified object, I was surprised to find that these were atlas moths or what we familiarly call as mariposa (or at least something similar).   

The moth spot
It was quite a while since the last time I saw the large moth in Metro Manila (maybe even as far as my childhood years). But at that particular moment I saw three.  It was unusual because that was probably the most of the moth I saw at one instance. But what was more unusual was that they seem to have suicidal tendencies that night.  Another 3 moths fell a few meters ahead of me. I examined all of them and they were less animated, exhibiting minimal movement.  I tried to wait for them to fly away but even with prodding, they did not budge anymore. I was curious about the moths, so we stopped a few more moments to observe what would happen. Pinky and Albert were jokingly referring to me as moth CSI.  Apart from a few more moths falling, the moths appear to be dying or dead. We decided to proceed with our walk.
Numerous spots on posts
On a higher spot on post
A few minutes we reached the baywalk. The cheesy lights are all on, lighting up the extent of the seaside attraction, in effect giving a festive feel. On the surface of the lamps' diffusers were very  prominent spots, seen even from afar.   I was amazed to discover that these were also numerous atlas moths, probably attracted by the lights, literally like a moth to a flame.  That night I probably counted more than thirty, but there were more on the distant lamp posts. 

The mariposa moths in the baywalk were not falling like leaves, like in the intersection a few minutes earlier.  But they were flying low and do not seem to mind the presence of people. I wonder if this is the real behavior of atlas moths.  I have nothing to compare it to as I have even a vague recollection of my last Manila encounter with the moth.  I was however thinking if this is still a common scene in most provincial towns, the strong undeniable presence of the native giant moth.   In my next visit to Tandag,  I am hoping to spot more of the moth gracefully fluttering its delicate impressive wings. I would not want to see them dropping down the street, even if by chance this is the moth's natural behavior.
Dead moths are scattered on the street the following day
On our way back, we passed by the same route and found a few more dead moths on the street.  I still have to know the reason behind this...

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