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Ronan's report

Sunday August 22nd 2010

On a recent camping trip I was bitten several times during the night. It was my fault, I had a couple too many and forgot to close the insect screen properly. In the morning I woke to find a bloody great huntsman spider sharing my tent and several double puncture wounds in various places. Most insects don’t freak me out at all and the huntsman was sent on its way. Although they are completely harmless those cave Weta things they get in New Zealand look like they could freak you out just a bit, I do have one weakness – moths.

When I was a kid I still recall a moth flying into my ear one night while I was reading in bed. My screams bought my parents running but by the time they got there the moth had stopped rattling around inside my ear, I must have killed it with deeply thrust finger. Only someone who has experienced this extremely unsettling feeling will know what I’m talking about.

Some years later at school I was diagnosed as having a hearing problem in one ear and was sent to the doctor. A syringe filled with warm water was gently squirted into my ear and the ‘tang’ sound the moth encased in wax made as it hit the stainless steel bowl was the first clear sound I’d heard out of that ear since I was 7 years old.

Years later picture this scene – we’re in a camp on Dirk Hartog island on the very first Boneheads trip. A dozen of us are sitting around at night telling lies as we recount another outstanding day of fishing in that incredible place. The beer, wine and bullshit are flowing in equal measures. It’s the desert and there are no insects out here, not ones that buzz around the light at night anyway – except for ONE moth. I keep an eye on it, I know their ways. As I reached forward to pick up my wine glass that thing saw its opening and that opening was my left ear hole. It drilled itself straight in there and scuttled to my eardrum. I shrieked and jumped throwing wine in all directions, clutching and clawing at my ear hysterically screaming ‘moth, moth, get the fucking thing out of there’!!!! People leapt in all directions momentarily shocked and then I know that some of them laughed. The best of them at least had the good manners to slip of into the dark to uncontrollably wet their pants but some couldn’t walk that far. Me I was on the floor by now, a jibbering wreck, clutching and poking a finger as far as it would go to try and stop this madness. Fortunately we had a nurse with us. He had graduated to hospital supervisor level and took control of the situation. We held a torch up to the ear but that didn’t work even though the thing was trying to turn around in there (I can’t tell you how bad that feels). Step two was to fill my ear with cooking oil and that silenced the beast. Overnight it drained out with the drowned moth deposited on my pillow. I crushed it between two large rocks and buried it deep.

I thought of these incidents recently when I was in the bush and came across the remains of a huge grub casing. This thing was much larger than the largest thumb you’ve ever seen. These grubs live in trees and chew their way through living wood. I know what had hatched out of it, a friggin moth about the size of a small bird. I live in terror of it fluttering around a light at night, let alone smacking into the side of my head. There is no comfort at all in knowing that it wouldn’t fit into my ear.


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