What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Moth size of Giant Swallowtail
Location:  Seminole, Florida
July 20, 2011  10:14 AM
Hi Daniel
Saw this at about 7:30a.m. today in front yard. I thought it
was a bat at first. Seminole ,Florida 33776
No exageration – it is the size of a “Giant” – Giant Swallowtail.
Sorry the pics aren’t better.
Do you know what it is?
Have a Great Day!
Brent

Black Witch

Hi Brent,
Your moth is a male Black Witch.  Females have light bands across the wings.  The Black Witch is a species associated with more tropical climates, though their northern migrations have been recorded for more that 100 years.  It is unclear why so many individuals fly north, as far as Canada, since their food plant, the acacia, does not grow in the North.  In recent years, the Black Witch has been reported to breed in the southernmost U.S.  We may be witnessing a range expansion due to global warming.  According to BugGuide:  “The northward migration out of Mexico is triggered by Mexico’s rainy season which typically starts in early June and lasts through October. Most US records are from June-August, with a considerable number of records from September-Novermber. [sic] Very few US records from December-May.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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2 Responses to Black Witch

  1. mdikdan says:

    Hey. I live in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and there’s quite a few of these around. I’ve gotten used to them flying in my room and staying there. I usually just leave them be and they fly off eventually, but I’ve had a few slower ones unable to find the exit who start banging themselves against doors and walls, which makes a good bit of noise.

    I’ve no interest in harming them – I rather like having them around – but I’d like to be able to get rid of them when I have to. It may sound silly, but I’ve always been rather weary of touching them – product of some misremembered story about them giving off a dust that made one blind, and the fact that they are feared by almost everyone around here – and I’d like some confirmation on how this is ridiculous before I actually try to touch one :P

    • bugman says:

      There are many superstitions about Black Witch moths, but they are perfectly harmless. If you handle them, scales from the wings, which appears to be dust, will be left on your hands, but it is perfectly harmless.

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