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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96

(continued from page 13)

I was more than halfway through my smoke when someone said, "Don't look now, but something is after you." To my amazement, a very large flying something was acting aggressively towards me. It had a four- or five-inch wingspan and a ring size 40 body. The porch lights were dim, making it difficult to see what sort of thing it was. Guesses ranged from a bat to a hummingbird to a wasp. I was in no mood to find out who or what it wanted, so I got out of my lounge chair and danced around like a rap singer/dancer/performer to avoid the thing. Everywhere I scrambled to, the trespasser did in like manner. I would evade its repeated lunges and it would fly right at me, relentlessly, again and again. There was only one thing left to do: retreat to the cabin. It chased me all the way there, as I slammed the screen door behind me, eluding it once again. After about one minute, everyone said the coast was clear and to come out. Within seconds after I came out, it reappeared from out of the inky darkness, lunging at me aggressively.

By the way, I never put down my trusty Excalibur. I even snuck in a puff or two along the way.

Someone noticed that when I puffed smoke through the screen, the creature would reappear only to flit around in the plume. When I held the Excalibur to the screen, it fluttered madly in front of it with a sort of urgency. It became obvious that he or she wanted the cigar and not me. My brave 9-year-old son grabbed a fishing net and temporarily subdued the intruder. The holes in the net were too large to contain it for long. In that brief moment, we could see it was a moth; a very big moth...or so we thought. I came out of the cabin again after much prompting from everyone.

After all, was I a man or a moth? They persuaded me to stand still and let the moth land on my cigar. The moth landed on my hand in-stead. Let me tell you, these were tense moments. If you are not accustomed to having large fuzzy creepy crawlers on you, this is a real experience. It may as well have been a tarantula.

The struggle could have been over with a swat, but that is too often the way people handle something they do not understand. We are there to observe the wildlife and respect it. We studied its brown and black colors for several minutes, increasingly becoming more comfortable with it. Then I shook it off to go to the cabin to retrieve my camera. By the time I retrieved it, it was too late; the furry buggy-eyed creepy crawler was gone forever, returning, once again, to its mysterious nighttime existence. My Excalibur was waning badly, about less than an inch long by this time. I hadn't another cigar to continue the experiment, partly because we had extended our stay an extra day, exhausting our supply.

My research revealed the culprit. I believe it was the five-spotted hawk (or sphinx) moth. When in the caterpillar stage, it is known as the tobacco or tomato hornworm. My guess is that the moth may have been looking for a place to lay its eggs (a tobacco plant, I presume).

I plan on going to camp again in the near future with Excaliburs and camera at the ready. I can't help but wonder if this happens to other cigar smokers. I've had other cigars at camp at night but never to this effect. I feel justified somehow that even wildlife can enjoy a good smoke.

David A. McLaughlin
No Address Given


Dear Marvin,

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