Warm as it Gets


The windows were open all night and it is 75 degrees inside at 5 a.m. That doesn’t happen so often, and we’re expecting a break in the string of sultry nights this weekend.

Hot nights haven’t been so great for those who want their air conditioned to our exacting comfort requirements, but for the night creatures whose rate of metabolism is dependent on the temperatures the way nature gives them, these balmy dark hours have been fat city. The moths and other night pollinators are in their salad days.

Speaking of which: I had an idea the other day, and just now remembered it. (Ann will only be MORE certain I’m a whacko, so since she works this evening, this might be a good time to try this out.)

Take a white sheet (there’s part of the reason I’ll be glad she’s gone. Better to get forgiveness than permission. Eh?) and hang it on the clothes line out between the shed the the maple tree. Run an extension cord from the shed and plug in the work light hung over the clothesline and between folds of the sheet.

After dark, turn on the light. Wait for the insects. Photograph with flash.

This image of one of our busy clearwing moths was taken at the butterfly bush outside my window with the Nikon 18-200 lens, which is turning out to serve nicely as a mid-range macro.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Moths…they are one of the things that always amazed me about being in the mountains. Every morning the screen door on the cabin would have this amazing collection of moths scattered across it. All day long the birds would flutter up onto the porch coming to the daily smörgÃ¥sbord.

    What really blew me away was the variety…

  2. Only you would think of that one Fred. I’m betting you get a lot to photograph. But try to find the oldest looking white sheet you can find, just in case.

    No offense intended, but the biggest problem with making a change to big problems like King Coal, is that too many people just forget about it, while it goes on and on.

    I hope everyone who reads about it will make a point to do at least one new minor little thing, every week to try to make a difference. And please don’t forget, it could be your back yard next.