Yesterday during our lovely hike through the Bosque, there was a funny moment that turned poetic. The Bosque’s land and vegetation sprawled around us, lush from the recent rains, just beautiful, the air unusually humid. We cut from the wider woods path to the smaller path beside the Rio Grande, below the tall cottonwoods. And then a large insect collided with me, bumping me, hovering around. I couldn’t get away—I screamed!
I stepped back, re-focused my eyes, and realized, actually, it wasn’t an attacking insect, but a cocoon suspended in the air at chest-height, dangling all the way below the tall treetops above. A bagworm moth larva, Google identified. Suspended mid-air, he slowly revolved after our collision, and the top of his fringed cocoon was open, with the worm’s head poked out, along with a few arms.
Bagworms adorn their bag-like cocoons with bits of leaves and other debris till their cocoons are shingled with textures, like hobo tents cobbled together from whatever’s around. This cocoon slowly revolved suspended, with the larva’s head wiggling from the top as he tried to figure things out. Quite a predicament, thirty feet below the tree branch, dangling in a big heavy cocoon on a thin strand of silk.
A couple of the larva’s hands held tufts of cotton stuffing, which seemed to line the inside of his cocoon. He waved his handfuls of cotton and kind of mouthed the strand he dangled from, as if trying to winch himself the thirty feet back upward.
It certainly seemed his cocoon’s top should have been closed and the larva kept tidy so he could change. He was nowhere near done with his transformation, and had no moth characteristics in sight.
We watched him, took some video clips, and then walked on down the path, leaving him to his destiny, revolving mid-air under the trees by the river—to winch himself back up, or seal back closed his cocoon, or get swallowed up by a dog leaping for a treat.
What an awakening collision with that moth larva in his cocoon by the Rio Grande. And of course, it’s always funny to get spooked and afterwards still hear the echo of your own stock “terrified woman” scream. I keep chuckling.