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Mackenna Lee


Disembark, Grow, Illuminate.

We have a wealth of knowledge we can gain from nature, and I derive inspiration from the traits of animals that deviate from their “expected norms”.

Take, for example, wolves and moths. Many minds attribute wolves as pack animals. In the same line of thinking, moths fly in the dark, attracted only to flame and neon-tinted light. When we hear of a “lone wolf”, we perk up.

Similarly, when we hear of a “moth living by daylight”, intrigue grows.

I first discovered the latter animal while museum-hopping in the City. Spending a day at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is a treat. The museum resides in the former mansion of Andrew Carnegie, and the exhibits there are artful, innovative, and provocative.

It was there I stumbled upon a small call-out to the Cylmene Haploa moth. I – like most of the ignorant population – categorize moths as “ugly butterflies”, though the Cylmene Haploa moth has tiger-like wings which do not fit the standard grey, forgettable creature.

Clymene Moth

This fancy flutterer appealed to me for simplistic symbolism. A creature so known to travel in darkness, and this one happens to live by both dark and light. When arriving home, I looked to understand the anomalies of the Clymene Haploa among their moth brethren.


Surprise, surprise, few folks scramble to delve into moth species, even in the vastness of the interwebs. I couldn’t find much on the species, excepting standard visual identification information and migratory patterns.

So putting aside biological utility, I focused on the symbolic aspects. Humans are moths in a way, defeatist in our mindset and prone to darkness. Headlines of panic and fear move us, and stories of optimism and hope ignite our skepticism. We seek counterarguments for good news and sink further into bad news.

How do we adjust the aperture of our minds to equally subsist within the dark and the light?

People are acknowledging eachother in new ways, re-thinking normal, and seeing more clearly. There’s rarely a time in history where the world is experiencing universal good or bad, though we act as if the world is within single slip of perpetual mayhem.

Artificial light can lure moths as well, as we know from the bucolic imagery of LED moth zappers on a rickety porch. Humans similarly can be drawn to false-levity, distractions for our mind in the form of brain candy available via streaming platforms, clickbait, and online browsing.

They are short-term antidotes, and their benefits waver over time, requiring frequent and regular dosages.

While we do not understand why moths are drawn to flame, we do understand why humans need relief. The peddling of doom and gloom hurts us. We feel empty and helpless. We revel in our disarray, but it also exhausts us.

Despite moths being an “ugly butterfly”, I endeavor to include the Cylmene Haploa on my crest. We can live by the light and the dark. We can seek dual-perspectives, extending our perception beyond the narrative served to us.

This moth is a symbolic anomaly, rising against its species and wearing tiger stripes to signify strength. Should we all aspire to be ugly butterflies.



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