I came to the realization that moths are evil early in my youth when, unbeknownst to my family, a shipment of moth larvae was brought into our basement in a case of pecans. My bedroom was right next to the storage room that contained the infested bucket of seething evil, and I blissfully went about my life as these larvae hatched into full-grown fuzzballs of terror who then infiltrated every crack and crevice of our basement.
My first experience with the devil spawn starts like many horror films do, with the innocent victim stumbling groggily into the bathroom to take a shower. Apparently moths like dank locations, and they all decided the shower was the best meeting place to strategize their satanic assault. As I opened the shower door, I heard a quiet fluttering, like the beating of a demon’s heart….and then…..
To this day, I can’t approach a shower door without nightmarish flashbacks.
When I wasn’t outright swarmed, they liked to flit in after I had commenced showering. Gratefully, the showerhead provided an adequate weapon of defense.
To top this off, they multiplied. Nothing like sitting on a toilet watching two amorous moths to ruin your day.
The infestation got so bad that my mother broke down and offered us a quarter for every villainous creature we killed, which turned out to be an incredibly messy business. It first involved attempting to track their sporadic, schizophrenic-like flight patterns, hoping they’d land. And when squishage finally occurred, their dusty residue and surprisingly juicy innards left giant schmears on the wall. Unless cleaned up immediately, these remains crustified and were impossible to remove, leaving a visage of guts that haunted us ever-after.
As bad as all this was, the incident that actually sealed my fate, forever rendering me into a quivering, wailing mass of panic any time a moth is nearby, is the time I got trapped in my car with a moth.
I was in high school, headed out for a fun evening with friends in my 1981 Chevrolet Chevette. This car was a gem—it had no power steering or windows and shuddered violently whenever I went above 35 miles an hour. Worst of all, the windows only rolled down with Herculean effort and the locks required pliers to lift once they were pushed down.
On the evening of my doom, I got into my car, closed the door, and prepared to start the ignition. And then it happened. Roused from its evil hibernation by the light that came on when I opened the door, a giant moth attacked, senselessly dive-bombing, fluttering its dusty wings against my skin, dumbly getting tangled in my hair. I panicked. I flailed. Arms and elbows went flying.
During the flailing, the unthinkable occurred:
Yes, the door was locked. I was trapped. Screaming, sobbing, I fruitlessly yanked at the lock. I tried to roll the window down, but because fear had paralyzed my muscles and my hands were sweaty with terror, it was a futile attempt.
The moth kept furiously dive-bombing my head, frenzied further by my screams of torture. I resorted to banging on the windows like a magician who is out of tricks and trapped in a water tank.
Just when I had given up hope,
My brother came outside.
And opened the passenger seat door,
and helped me get out,
and killed the moth.
Ever since, moths have specifically singled me out for torture. If there is a moth in the vicinity, I am its target.
One time in the Denver airport with hundreds—literally hundreds—of travelers sitting in the cramped seats, a moth flew up from under the chairs, circled, fluttered all about, and then sighted me on its radar. Apparently moths can sense fear.
It dive-bombed, kamikaze-style and attacked. Just me. This of course led me to hysterical screams and going fetal—with hundreds of witnesses. As it flew away, I swear I could hear it mocking me as it left me in a huddle on the floor.
Even when dead, moths hate me. I got into my car one day and saw, to my horror, a dead moth sitting right next to the gear shift. Panic rose, clawing at my throat. But I tried to talk myself out of it. I announced to the car—and the universe: “You’re a grown woman, Adena, and it’s dead. It can’t hurt you anymore." I desperately tried to believe those words. I considered calling the hubs to remove it, but I was running late, and naively thought that it would just….sit there, dead, not harming me.
Alas, no. Even in death moths are evil. As I backed out of the driveway, a breeze came through the window, lifted the zombie moth from its grave, and flung it at me.
It got caught in my shirt. I nearly wrecked the car in the ensuing chaos and panic.
You’d think these are rare coincidences in my life, but they aren’t. I have dozens of stories just like them.
I am a true victim. I live with my fear every day, and am ostracized and mocked. When camping, I can’t participate in fun, evening games, because they always involve lanterns, and as such, hoards of moths hurling senselessly about. In high school, my friends found out about my phobia, and mercilessly teased me, threatening to mail me a box of giant moths, so that when I opened the box, I would be swarmed.
Word of my phobia has reached my workplace, and my students occasionally slip in a picture of a moth into the middle of their power-point presentations. And then laugh, and laugh. And laugh.
Knocking on doors with porch lights on late at night is a simple pleasure that many of you take for granted. I can’t do it.
So there you have it. I will forever live in fear. Moths are evil and out to destroy me, as is evidenced by my lifelong victimization. I realize that I am a grown woman rendered helpless by a tiny, fuzzy creature; but, this is my reality. I write today so that there is a record, so that there are witnesses. That way someday, after they have succeeded in bringing about my demise, at least my story will remain.