The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams

The Behaviour of Moths

Poppy Adams

Like the life cycle of a moth – there are many layers to this book, often exposing a dark side before transforming itself into something of beauty. Meet two sisters - vastly different: one is quiet, hermit-like, unassuming and extremely naive; the other is gregarious, outspoken but extremely selfish. A must-read book which flits between past and present - full of heartache, suspense, love - and the study of moths and butterflies.


I sat on the stairs outside Clive's office, with the tin on my lap, entranced for the next two hours. The caterpillar gradually darkened and soon I watched it spontaneously rip itself apart, starting behind its head and continuing to split itself open, right down between its eyes, the skin on both sides falling away to reveal the shiny mahogany pupa underneath. As the skin continued to fall off, pairs of legs, a moment ago walking, became instantly inanimate, hanging down limply, a discarded costume. There was nothing unusual about that - I'd seen caterpillars pupate many times before - but it was mid-way through when I began to see something new. The caterpillar's shiny new underskin started to burst all over in tiny little uprisings, one at a time, a gash here, a gash there and then all over, and out of the holes popped the writhing, tapered heads of a totally different creature's larvae, tiny translucent maggots hungrily eating their way out of the caterpillar, devouring the body alive from within. I continued to watch, transfixed by the most sordid feast you could imagine, as these small larvae not only gorged themselves on caterpillar but ferociously cannibalized each other whenever they met.

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