...Okay, not a real fairy. But close enough!
This is a male luna moth, Actias luna, and this is the very first one I have ever seen in my life. Where I live used to be slightly too far north for these beauties, but over the last few years they've been making their way into the area. This gorgeous male has a wingspan of 5 inches from tip to tip, and is nearly 8 inches long. Mom and I measured; I very gently poked his wings out to their full spread while she held a ruler on the other side of the door.
I first spotted it about 5:13am this morning, sitting on my neighbors' front door. The temptation to go look was overwhelming, since I'd only ever seen these moths in pictures. But it was way too early, raining, and if I'd been spotted the results would not have been good. We are not on good terms with those particular neighbors (nobody in the neighborhood is, actually). So all I could do was wait and hope they didn't scare it away with all their banging and yelling and door-slamming.
Miracles of miracles, they didn't. After they'd all left for the day, I snuck over to take some pictures. Upon finding the moth a willing poser and seemingly unconcerned about being handled, I coaxed it onto my hand and carried it back to my place so I could get a better look. It spent the rest of the day clinging to my front door, much to the surprise of my mother when she came home from work. She'd noticed it on the neighbors' door but had thought it a paper cutout made by the neighbors' kids. When dad got home he took one look and said "What'd you do, go over and steal it?"
Yes, I did "go over and steal it". It was totally worth all the sneaking around. This moth is gorgeous.