Child’s Play

As a kid I spent a lot of time in our backyard pool during the summer. I was a fish, and it was our summertime fun, my family not having the resources for expensive vacations. Although back then, a family with six children could go the Disneyland. Now you would probably need a second mortgage on your house. Usually, we visited relatives for our vacation, and reunited with our cousins.

I remember one of our favorite games in the pool was to capture moths that fluttered and landed on our Lantana bushes. I played this game with my cousins and friends. The Lantana would attract scores of moths, and to our astonishment and delight, we could catch them by grabbing hold of their wings. Up close, we saw their black, dotty eyes and their antennae twitch.

Poor little mothy

But the object of the game was to take this little moth, squirming in our grasp and swim with it to the bottom of the deep end, and put the moth in the drain. Did I think I was providing a better place for the little moth, maybe an enchanted moth party on the other side of the drain? No, probably not.

Usually, it was that the moth must go in the drain. End of story. Did we feel remorse? No. It was mission accomplished. Did we maybe think about it hours later after it had sunk in? No. Did we understand that we brought countless moths to their death in this practice? No.

Had my parents been present, I’m sure they would have scolded us. My parents had no idea this was going on. Don’t worry, I’m mostly a normal, functioning adult, who wishes no harm done to animals and has a great respect for nature. Will I be sharing this story about the little moths with my kids? No, not yet.

Ah, but I do feel so much better, so relieved that I could share it with you, dear reader. I feel so much better. I’ve been holding that story in for decades. Oh, it’s a weight off my shoulders.

My kids have no desire to put moths in the drain, thank goodness. Although there is this:

It’s a Roly-Poly Playground. In the name of science, of course.

One last hurrah

I don’t know who could have bought this. This imaginative playground will most certainly shorten the life of countless roly-polies. In light of my recent memories of detaining insects, I vow to release the roly-polies from this horrible fate.

Armadillidium vulgare, aka wood lice
His defensive, ball posture

What do you like about roly-polies, I asked my six-year-old son. He gave this response:  They roll, they turn into balls, and they’re easy to crush.

So, there you have it. I’ll do what I can.






photo credits: Gustavo (lu7frb) via photopin cc; RBerteig via photopin cc; Wikipedia



  1. The father of a friend of mine had a chicken farm, we would go there for the summer, we would sneak out and get eggs that were not going to hatch but had a death chicken inside, we would dissect them, it was basically a rotten egg.
    Our parents never found that until we were too old and it wasn’t fun anymore.
    That Roly-Poly Playground looks like a fun thing.


    1. Wow, Leo, that’s like a real science experiment. How could you resist that one? I probably couldn’t have done that one. Chickens kind of freak me out. The Roly-Poly is kind of cute, although it truly is a death chamber. Sometimes they get tossed out. Poor little roly-polies. It’s one toy that’s gotten a lot of use.


  2. Ha ha! My childhood was equally as cruel to the insect kingdom I think! It’s quite natural whilst, as parents, not something we will probably encourage in our children! I’ve grown up to love and appreciate nature, like you, despite my serial killer past. I’m sure our kids will do the same!


    1. Oh, I do hope you’re right, Ken! I’m hopeful. Poor insect kingdom. It’s good thing there’s so many insects maybe, although, I can’t say I really like insects. Except, for butterflies. Oh, those are kind of like of moths, aren’t they? Oh, well…I think the moths get a bad rap.


  3. For one horrible afternoon in July I was a murderer. Well, an accomplice. I did not actually put the caterpillars on the lid of the grill to make them “dance” but I did not stop it from happening. I have carried this secret for more than 30 years. Thank you for setting me free.


    1. Oh, Kelly, I’m glad I could help release that secret that you’ve been carrying all these years! That’s what I’m here for. But, that must have been quite a sight to see them “dance.” You know, they were just dancing after all, having a good time! I’m sure if they were able, those little caterpillars would thank you.


  4. How strange that you should write about the drowning of moths. This is a haunting memory for me, as well. For me it was one moth, I scalded it with hot water and forced it down the drain of my bathtub. I think I was 15. (not so young) Rather than take it outside, which is what I do now, I tried to get rid of it the easy way. The problem is, it suffered and it’s suffering has haunted me my whole life. I’ve even asked God for forgiveness! haha! Seriously. Mine is a worse moth incident than yours because I watched it suffer, knowing what I was doing. It sickens me.
    I have always, from that day on, tried to rescue insects. Unless it’s like a plague of Biblical proportions. In that case, I’d call in the exterminator.
    Who knew your post would unlock my moth memory! hahah!


    1. How strange, Lisa, that we both have moth memories. Who knew, right?! Well, I’m glad you were able to unleash it here. I forgive you 🙂 Your fascination of it probably just took over. I usually avoid insects as much as possible. Spiders are okay as long as they’re not in my house. Well, I hope you’re ok. You can rest easy now knowing you’re not alone.


    1. Anything you want to confess, Becca? You do it right here….That wasn’t me with the moths. I think that was someone else. Just kidding. Yes, I think you’re so right. I think it’s funny how kids don’t process things past “A.” There is no “B.” Only that one thing that they’re doing at that one moment.


      1. I wrote a post of apologies a while back. One was for when I purposefully broke a baby bird egg just to see what would happen. I felt guilty about it ever since, but at the time I didn’t really understand. I was just curious.


  5. I think it is a right of passage for a kid to do this kind of thing. Kids probably don’t think of bugs and such as live beings until one day it clicks and then they stop … or they don’t and you have a problem.


    1. Let’s hope it stops, right? Luckily, I’ve never met anyone who’s had that problem. I think it does, in fact, just click. It’s interesting to me how kids just don’t think beyond the single task at hand. To live in the moment…ah, I wonder what that’s like.


  6. Oh my! This just brought back memories of my childhood in Jamaica. I used to cut earthworms in half with rocks and rakes or whatever I could find and watch them regenerate. One time I think I even cut the tail off of a lizard. Part of me hopes that one was a dream, but I vividly remember the tail prancing around on the grass. Jeez.. how terrible.
    I think I may have repressed those memories for a reason.


    1. Hi, Jhaneel…and I brought them all back for you. I hadn’t really thought about the moths in a long time. It sounds like you were very adventurous. I bet the earthworms provided hours of fun. It’s funny how I feel like it was someone else who drowned the moths. It wasn’t really me.


  7. Moths freak me out. A friend and I used to collect roly-polies, though. Once we got a whole bunch of them and put them in a jar. And forgot to poke air holes. Whoops. Few hours later, we had a bunch of dead roly-polies. I think we were traumatized for almost two seconds before going out to collect more. Children are evil.


    1. Whoops, Alice! Poor little roly-polies. What childhood is complete without roly-polies? Yours is a wonderful story. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to spray out the playground. To be honest, moths freak me out, too. I don’t know why I even did that. Peer pressure?


    1. Oh, Weebs, I think I’m going to cry. Shall I send you some roly-polies? With a playground, too? You know, the experience is not complete without the playground. Roly-Polies deserve a day like everybody else. Hey, why not? It’s a wonderful idea.


  8. Some neighborhood kids and I would trap moths in jars, and they’d die every single time. We weren’t trying to hurt them, but we didn’t think about providing oxygen or food. You think we would have learned.


    1. Moths…you too, huh? Moths never seemed as creepy to me as other bugs and insects. I didn’t even think about not hurting them, so at least you didn’t want to hurt them. It’s a strange thing being a kid, and living from moment to moment. Oh, to be a kid again!


  9. We would gather ants and ladybirds and let them live in a jar. We put leaves in the jar for food. We also made giant holes for oxygen and then wondered where they all disappeared to the next day. My mum not best pleased when we unleashed scores of ants in our bedrooms. But at least we didn’t kill ’em. I only kill spiders. Spiders freak me out.


    1. Yeah, I don’t much care for spiders either. My oldest is fearless with them and will catch them and release them outside. But, if it’s a big spider, we don’t take any chances! Too bad about those ants!! At least they weren’t spiders.


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