In bed with a Bogong*

My mother-in-law hated moths; their furry, little bodies; their frantic flapping at the windows at night and, most of all,  the way they flew straight for her hair. I thought of Dudlee this morning.

I was sound asleep when I felt something crawling over my neck. Simultaneously flicking the crawler, jumping out of bed and switching on the light isn’t easy at 3am, believe me. The huge, hairy tarantula of my imagination turned out to be a Bogong moth. It left some moth dust behind on the sheets (what is that stuff?) and disappeared beneath the bed, probably with a satisfied smirk on its face.

Spring is Bogong moth time in SE Australia. There is a mass migration from the moths’ winter retreat in sunny Queensland to the cooler climes of the Australian Alps. On their journey south many moths fall by the wayside and are attracted by the bright city lights. 

Parliament House in Australia’s capital, Canberra, is right on the Bogongs’ flight path. The lights from the building act like a giant moth trap. Moths treat the building as a stop-over on the way to the mountains and spend a couple of days clustering around courtyards and crawling into the airconditioning ducts. They arrive in such huge numbers that lights on the building are now dimmed in October and November and a fine mesh has been placed over the air-con units.

Maybe not all moths are a nuisance. There is a saying if a large moth lands on you, it is an ancient, benevolent soul come to wish you good fortune. That was probably the one that visited me this morning.

*Bogong: not to be confused with bogan, the Australian version of rednecks in the US and chavs in the UK.


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