Currently viewing the category: "Black Witch"
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Subject:  Recent photos at our home
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
September 13, 2015
Sandy and Bettie

Black Witch

Black Witch

Dear Sandy and Bettie,
Your large moth is a Black Witch.  Native to Central and South America, Black Witch Moths have been reported to migrate north during Mexican monsoons every fall, and they have been known to reach as far north as the northern border states and even into Canada.  Your individual is a female, as evidenced by the light diagonal markings across the wings.  Though they are frequently found in Los Angeles, a Black Witch sighting is always an exciting event.

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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: Male Black Witch Moth
Location: Frisco, TX
July 19, 2015 5:21 am
I don’t remember if I sent these in before, but I thought your team would appreciate this beauty! A male (I believe) black witch moth landed in my yard one day and allowed me to measure and photograph him. If I didn’t know any better I’d think he was posing!
Signature: Rachel

Male Black Witch

Male Black Witch

Hi Rachel,
We have been receiving numerous Black Witch sighting comments, including some from Colorado.  Your image of this male is wonderful because of the use of scale.  We will feature the posting in the hope it will allow others to identify the Black Witch moths that are currently migrating north from Mexico.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Is this a big old moth?
Location: Roatan Honduras
February 16, 2015 10:47 pm
I thought this was a bat but maybe ,,,, a very large moth? It flew around the bathroom like a bat and has a wingspan of at least six inches. This photo was taken in Roatan Honduras. Love to know!
Signature: Wondering in Roatan

Black Witch

Black Witch

Dear Wondering in Roatan,
We are speculating that you were a tourist in Honduras.  Though this head on view is not ideal for identification purposes, we are quite confident your image is that of a Black Witch,
Ascalapha odorata, a large moth that frequently enters homes in Latin America and is subject to numerous superstitions.  In Mexico the Black Witch is known as Mariposa de la Muerte.  You may read more about the Black Witch on the Texas Entomology website.

It did look like a witch moth ( what a great name!)  but we are very grateful to be able to check with the experts. Thank you so much for your help. We do have tons of fruit bat s out here too – it wasn’t very bat like but it certainly seemed like a huge moth! I like the superstition that if you find a moth in your house you will be coming into a lot of money!
We are property owners down here but don’t get here as much as we’d like.
Best,
Adrienne Larkin
La Diosa del sol

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please Identify
Location: San Antonio, TX 78229
September 15, 2014 2:05 pm
I suspect this is a moth? I found it on my car when I left work on Sunday September 14th around 11:30pm. I live in San Antonio, Texas and I saw it in the 78229 zip code. Let me know if you need more information.
Thank you
Signature: Ray Silva

Black Witch

Black Witch

Hi Ray,
This spectacular moth is a Black Witch,
Ascalapha odorata, a species that has naturalized in the southernmost parts of the U.S., but most individuals migrate north from Mexico during the fall months.  See BugGuide for additional information.

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Subject: Moth
Location: San Fernando, CA
August 22, 2014 5:31 pm
Friend found this in his home in San Fernando, CA. It’s huge
Signature: J Lytle

Black Witch

Black Witch

Dear J Lytle,
This impressive moth is a Black Witch, and they are found in the American neotropics.  They are a common species in Mexico and each year at the end of summer, individuals fly north, some reaching as far north as Alaska.  Though they are unable to naturalize in the northern climes, larvae have been found in Southern California, though most sightings in the continental US are of migrants.  This individual is a male Black Witch.

Thanks so much for the information. I have a copy of Hogue’s Insects of the LA Basin, and the Black Witch photo didn’t look like this, but all your sources do!
Best,
Jeanie Lytle

The illustration in Hogue is a female Black Witch.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination