Playing ‘Possum

It woulda been around 1:30 a.m. I was in the computer room doing research for a posting on the geology of Southern Ontario.  I keep a larder of partly completed write-ups to work on when I’m in the mood.  There’s currently twenty-one in my “pending posts” folder.  So anyway, the wife had long since gone to bed. We snuggled ‘til she dozed off, as is our procedure, then I quietly went back downstairs and returned to my writing.

So, there I am, quietly reading and recording data.  I had a coupla books laid out on my desk and a few web pages open, while Lady Gaga quietly sang “Applause” (the only thing better than that song, is that song on a Kia advert with hamsters).  From somewhere over in the darkened area of the room, I thought I heard a faint buzzing sound.  I assumed it was some kind of sound aberration caused by rain against the windows.  Then I heard it again.  This time it didn’t sound like rain.  It sounded like a growl or something desperate, or maybe angry.  I shut off the music, and listened for it.

There it was again.  It was definitely coming from the window.  As the computer room is in the basement, the windows are small and slightly above my head level.  As I approached the window, I was startled to clearly hear the buzzing sound directly in front of me.  I threw the main light switch and couldn’t see anything inside.  I began to assume it was something outside, when I saw something flickering behind some colored glass articles the wife had put on the sills.

The buzzing sound was unmistakably the vibration of some rather large insect wings.  I had visions of the five pound bumblebee Ranger and I hit while cruising last Wednesday.  The bloody thing damn-near cracked my windshield.  I coulda lashed the stinger to a stick and brought down a moose if we’d been hungry enough.  As I slowly approached the window, I saw the shape and colors of giant silkworm moth wings.  I had no idea they could move their wings fast enough to make them buzz.  He was trapped in a severely constricted corner of the window, desperately trying to get free.  As for where he came from … this is a wildlife display the wife built awhile back, on the computer room shelves. We use the shelves to display our favourite stuff, and this is some of our favourite stuff.

Playin' Possum Display

The contents used to be a disorganized jumble of interesting finds from our forays along the trails.  They were piled up on a closet shelf down the back hallway, until she built this, one day while I was out with Ranger.  It’s a display of nests (bird and wasp), bird’s eggs, feathers, galls, cicada and dragonfly exuviae, a three winged maple key, a few mineral samples, land snail shells, and 10 spent giant silkworm moth cocoons.

OK, make that 9 spent giant silkworm moth cocoons, and one very live giant silkworm moth cocoon.

Playin. Possum Polyphemus Moth

We can only figure this one came out of a cocoon we were quite sure was dead.  Its side had been ripped open, so we put it on display as you could see the larva inside the cocoon.  We found it on the ground, so we figured either it tore open while falling in the ice storm, or some predator or parasite had dropped it while trying to eat it.  Either which way, it was quite alive and obviously kicking.

We placed it outside on some recently purchased annuals for the garden, and covered him with a plastic box to keep predators off him.  As night fell, we lifted the box off and checked him every half hour or so.  It wasn’t long after dark that we went out with a flashlight, and he was gone.  Hopefully, he’ll find a female and produce hundreds of eggs.  Eggs which might hatch to larvae which will eat all Summer, then form cocoons for me to mistakenly diagnose as dead.  Cocoons I can place in my basement so the occupant can, once again, scare the crap outa me.  And so the cycle of Life goes on.



  1. John Iafrate · · Reply

    What a story.
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. meeka · · Reply

    I love this – thanks. For all the dead creatures we find, its nice to find a live one once in a while 🙂
    I have my own cupboard for identical items and more. My kids call it my weird stuff, until they started finding things for it too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: