A boy discovered during an expedition to the forests of Bulgaria may have been raised by moths, according to anthropologists. A group of scientists had set out to catalogue unknown species from the order Lepidoptera, but were shocked when their powerful halogen lamp attracted an annoying, dusty youth with a face smeared in nectar.
"We'd set up the nets, and switched the big light on", explained Professor Jennifer Harbody, who led the expedition. "We had high hopes of discovering one of those really big, flappy moths with all eyes on its wings." But Harbody wasn't prepared for what they actually found.
"There was a commotion behind us; the sound of snapping twigs and a rush of air, followed by what sounded eerily like a child muttering 'flapflapflapflapflap'. Before we knew what was going on, our light had crashed to the floor, broken. Whatever it was, it was big. And pretty stupid, even by moth standards. We couldn't wait to review the images from our infra-red cameras."
The team were astonished by the footage. "We couldn't be sure, but it looked a lot like we'd attracted a small boy with eyes as wide as saucers, his left hand pressed to his forehead using two fingers as makeshift antennae. We were close to proving that someone with heightened moth instincts can smash bulbs with their face, we knew we had to catch him and find out more."
The team returned to the clearing at dawn and found the boy pressed against a tree-trunk, in a vain attempt to avoid capture. "We were stood right next to him, prodding him with a net and still he acted like we didn't know he was there. Eventually we offered him a blanket, and he sat down and nibbled some holes in it."
The team tried to house the boy, who they'd named Cecil, in a facility with other children raised by insects. "They've had a lot of success rehabilitating Jasper, a boy who was brought up by wasps", explained Harbody. "He's gone on to live a fairly normal life, although he's still a bloody nuisance at picnics."
Cecil seemed comfortable and would happily spend days curled up in his sleeping bag, before bursting out and looking to see if he'd grown wings. But his time at the facility was cut tragically short when he fell from a window overlooking a street light.
"Cecil's funeral was a sombre affair", sighed Harbody, "but I think it was what he would have wanted. The others thought he'd be drawn to cremation like a moth to a flame, but instead I've mounted him on some card with a big pin."