Currently viewing the category: "Moths"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Beekiller?
Location: Germany
August 31, 2015 12:23 pm
Hi guys,
my dad found this in one of his beehives? It’s about 2.8 inches long and I have absolutely no idea what this could be.
Kind regards,
Signature: Benedikt

Death's Head Hawkmoth, we presume.

Death’s Head Hawkmoth, we presume.

Dear Benedikt,
Would that we had a lepidopterist on our staff, we could conclusively provide you with an identification of this Hawkmoth based on vein patterns and other characteristics, but you have submitted your request to a pop culture site with artists, not entomologists, on its staff.  Since there are no scales remaining on the wings or body of this Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae, our identification is conjecture.  We believe this is a Death’s Head Hawkmoth,
Acherontia atropos, a species reported in Europe during the summer months.  According to Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic:  “Many individuals have been seen to frequent bee-hives where, upon entry, they feed undisturbed on the honey, puncturing combs with their short, sharp proboscises. Moritz et al. (1991) have shown that this species makes itself ‘chemically invisible’ to honeybees by mimicking the cutaneous fatty acids of its hosts. If disturbed while feeding, or for that matter at any other time, the adults raise their wings, run and hop around, while emitting high-pitched squeaks.”  We don’t know what caused the loss of wing and body scales in your individual, which resulted in a loss of the visual characteristics of the species, including the thoracic pattern that has been likened to a human skull.  You did not indicate if the moth was found dead or alive.  We believe it would have been very difficult for your individual to fly in its condition, we causes us to conjecture that it lost its life once it entered the bee hive, though we cannot say if it was stung by bees as an intruder, or if your father killed it while attempting to collect it.  As we know of no other Hawkmoths that enter bee hives, we are relatively certain our identification is correct.  According to Encyclopedia of Life:  “Nectar and sugar eaters, adult moths like honey, and because they produce a scent mimicking the scent of bees, they can climb into hives without alarming the bees inside. Their thick skin also protects them from stings. Unlike the other two species which are more general in types of bees they raid, A. atropos only invades the hives of the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera. Another unusual feature of this moth is that it makes a loud squeaking sound as a protective device if it is threatened.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Black Witch
Location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
August 31, 2015 1:43 pm
6:45 am, Cheyenne,Wyoming. Approximate size inches.
Signature: Wayne Barton

Black Witch

Black Witch

Dear Wayne,
Congratulations on this extreme northern sighting of a male Black Witch, a neotropical species found in Central and South America.  As far back as the late Nineteenth Century, sightings of Black Witch Moths as far north as Canada have been reported.  According to BugGuide:  “The northward June migration out of Mexico coincides with Mexico’s rainy season which typically starts in early June and lasts through October” and “Often flies great distances in only a few nights, hiding by day wherever it can find dense shade – frequently under the eves of houses.”   While sightings in border states including California and Texas, and southern states like Florida are not rare, northern sightings are not as common.  Black Witch Moths are now thought to be breeding in some border states, but harsh winters in the north will most likely prevent naturalization.  We followed a link from BugGuide to the Texas Entomology site where Mike Quinn is keeping records of state, and though there were three Black Witch sightings in 2004, there is nothing recent.  We would suggest that you contact Mike at entomike@gmail.com to report your sighting, though we are going to pass on the information, but should he require additional information, we would not be able to provide anything.  We can’t help but to wonder why Black Witches continue to migrate north though they would not stand much of a chance of passing on genetic material, because even if they were lucky enough to find a mate in Colorado or Canada, the harsh conditions would not favor the survival of the progeny. 

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Subject: Luna moth
Location: Wytheville VA mountains
August 31, 2015 2:59 pm
This beauty was on our car bumper when we overnighted in Wytheville VA in early August. I thought it was so beautiful. I’d never seen one before. Unfortunately it was injured, missing 1 antenna. It was barely moving when I placed it on the ground. FB friends identified it for me.
Signature: Jane Price

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Dear Jane,
The remaining plumose antenna indicates that this is a male Luna Moth.  Luna Moths do not eat as adults, and they live solely to reproduce.  The male spends his adult life searching for a mate, and once mated, he has fulfilled his purpose.  The mated female Luna Moth’s sole purpose is to search for the appropriate food for her brood and to lay her eggs on, according to BugGuide, leaves from trees:  “including white birch (
Betula papyrifera), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), pecans, and sumacs (Rhus).”  We would like to think that your male Luna Moth fulfilled his purpose.

Aundrea Murillo-Faynik, Juliett Moth, Sue Dougherty, Andrea Leonard Drummond liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Found this at work. York, England.
Location: York, England
August 30, 2015 3:57 am
I found this little dude asleep at work. He crawled onto my hand and sat for ages before I put him on a bush outside. I’ve never seen anything like this guy! He was big for English moths!
Signature: Laura, England

LIme Hawkmoth

LIme Hawkmoth

Hi Laura,
This beauty is a Lime Hawkmoth,
Mimas tiliae, and according to UK Moths:  “A reasonably common species in the southern half of Britain, it was most frequent in the London area, where there are still extensive tree-lined avenues. In recent years its distribution has spread northwards and is now regularly found well into North Yorkshire and beyond.”

Juliett Moth, Stephanie Hood, Kyla Gunter Gatlin, Ann Levitsky, Jessica M. Schemm, Danielle 'SweetP' Patton liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Moth in Arizona
Location: Gold Canyon, AZ
August 29, 2015 4:36 pm
This moth is on my back patio door with his wings folded. I almost missed him. I touched his body and his wings opened.
Signature: Lucy in AZ

Five Spotted Hawkmoth

Five Spotted Hawkmoth

Dear Lucy,
This impressive moth is a Five Spotted Hawkmoth,
Manduca quinquemaculata, and its caterpillars feed on the leaves of tomato and other cultivated plants in the same family.  You can compare your image to this image on BugGuide.

Stephanie Hood, Ann Levitsky, Heather Duggan-Christensen liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Brown Moth
Location: Walkerton, Indiana
August 28, 2015 3:53 pm
I was out cleaning up brush around the house and I saw this moth sitting on my porch steps. Not sure what kind it is, but it is a nice looking one.
Signature: Edward

Underwing Moth

Underwing Moth

Dear Edward,
This Underwing Moth in the genus
Catocala is a masterful example of camouflage.  The underwings are often brightly colored red, pink or orange with black stripes, but they are hidden when the moth rests, often on a tree trunk where it blends in perfectly with the bark.

Andrea Leonard Drummond liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination