In early July, the Red-shouldered Ctenucha Moths (Ctenucha rubroscapus) were very active along the coastal grasses at Fort Stevens, Oregon. At first I thought the moths were solid black, but upon closer inspection of the landed specimens, the red (actually orange) head and shoulders were quite apparent. The larvae of this moth feed on grasses and sedges, while the adults tend to take nectar from Goldenrod and Tansy Ragwort. The range of this moth is limited to the southern coast of Washington, down to the Sierra Nevadas and central California.
Biblical references to moths uniformly assign very destructive powers to them. Job uses an analogy that moths can cause the destruction of a dwelling from the foundation. Isaiah likens enemies of God’s righteousness to garments that moths will consume. And Matthew warns us to lay up our treasure in heaven, because worldly possessions will be destroyed by things like rust and moths. We tend to be drawn to things that are pretty or unique, and might even wish to collect such things. A cursory look at such things yields no warnings or red flags, but as in the case of the moth, there may be some hidden destructive device. The moth himself is not destructive, but his larval form can create havoc. Similarly, many things we may covet are innocent enough on the surface, but perhaps the quest to own them requires a sinful path. Or simply the act of possessing them results in a slow, insidious increase of boastfulness, pride or arrogance.