Currently viewing the category: "Noctuoids"
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Subject: Large moth in Costa Rica
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
October 28, 2013 4:58 pm
My daughter took this picture of a 5-inch-wingspan moth resting on a window in central Costa Rica (near Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve). This was taken today (end of October). The picture has been rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise. You can see part of the head on top.
Closest I found on an identification site was a ”black-witch moth” but the pattern seems a bit off.
Signature: Tomas Moran

Owl Moth from Costa Rica

Owl Moth from Costa Rica

Dear Tomas,
This Owl Moth,
Thysania zenobia, is a gorgeous specimen.  We wonder if a bird took a piece out of its wing.  You can verify our identification on Project Noah.

Thank you, Daniel!!
Yes, I noticed two pieces gone on the right side and thought the same.
Went to project Noah but landed on someone else’s picture.  Not sure how to “verify”.   I will try again to figure it out.
Thanks for your work
Tomas Moran
Palo Alto CA

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Subject: White Witch Moths from Ecuador
Location: Loja, Ecuador
April 29, 2013 5:38 pm
One day I visited the local Soccer stadium of Loja, Ecuador, and had the luck of finding these beautiful Moths lining the walls. I’m assuming that they were attracted to the stadium’s lights during the match the night before.
If my identification is correct, these are White Witch moths, Thysania agrippina. Thought I didn’t know this at the time, this species is known for having the largest wingspan of any moth or butterfly in the world. Hope you like the pictures!
Signature: Eric

Owl Moth

Owl Moth

Hi Eric,
Your guess on the species is close, but not exact.  The lighter moth is an Owl Moth,
Thysania zenobia.  It is in the same genus as the White Witch, but it is a considerably smaller moth.  You may read more about the Owl Moth on the Texas Entomology website or on BugGuide.  The photo with numerous darker moths illustrates Black Witches, Ascalapha odorata.  There is much lore associated with Black WitchesYou can read more on BugGuide.

Black Witches

Black Witches


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Subject: weird moth
Location: central Kentucky
September 3, 2012 12:34 pm
Not sure what this is. Has weird wings and praying mantis type hands.
Signature: Jason

Unknown Moth

Hi Jason,
We agree that this is a moth, but it is not something we recognize, nor do we ever recall seeing a similar looking moth.  We are going to post your letter immediately in the hopes that one of our readers can steer us in the right direction, and we are also going to contact Eric Eaton for assistance.

Eric Eaton Responds
I recognize it, but I can’t find another example, either :-(

Ed. Note:  We also requested assistance from Julian Donahue.

Hi James,
The webmaster for What’s That Bug? sent me this noctuid photo, but I don’t have access to the collection (nor my brain cells). It’s familiar, but I hesitate to guess it’s identity; don’t even know if it’s considered a noctuid or erebid these days?
Thanks for your help,
Julian (you can reply directly to Daniel Marlos, and he’ll post your ID and comments on the website)

James Adams provides an identification
Hey guys,
This is almost undoubtedly Palthis asopialis, though the low lighting and low resolution make it difficult to be sure.  The only other possibility would be Palthis angulalis.
HOpe this helps.
James K. Adams
Professor of Biology, Dalton State College

Dear James and Julian,
Wow, we actually considered the Litter Moths, but the front legs on the individuals on BugGuide did not look as long as the legs on the individual in the photograph submitted to What’s That Bug?  Thanks for the identification James.

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Subject: Never mind. I think I found it…
Location: Tansen, Palpa District, Nepal
June 28, 2012 7:45 pm
Just wrote you a query, but by searching more diligently, I found the Baorisa hieroglyphica. That looks like it!
Thank you.
Signature: lkw

Baorisa Moth

Dear lkw,
This particular email arrived while we were out of the office and we are going through old submissions in an effort to respond to some past requests.  We were unable to locate your original email, and we suspect you did not sign the two forms in the same manner.  This is a beautiful Baorisa and we thank you for saving us the effort of doing the research.  We know how time consuming it can be to identify species from many parts of the world.  We confirmed the identification on

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beautifull unknown moth?
Location: Dwangwa, Malawi, Africa
May 2, 2012 3:24 am
Haai! I found this beautifull moth just outside our house, I have no idea what it might be, but i would really like to know!
From Jani Bester
Signature: Dear Jani

Noctuid Moth from Malawi

Hi Jani,
We had some technical difficulties with the website and we were not able to post your identification request sooner.  Superficially, the wings on your moth resemble those of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae, but we have never seen legs like that on a Sphinx.  There is also something about the characteristics of this creature that reminds us of a North American species known as the Spotted Apatelodes from the Silkworm Moths family Bombycidae.  Since our site is not that scientific, we have lumped that underrepresented family into the Giant Silkworm Moths family Saturniidae on our site.  Interestingly, the three families we just mentioned, Sphingidae, Bombycidae and Saturniidae are all classified in the same superfamily Bombycoidea.  See BugGuidefor this classification and the North American species associated with the superfamily.  We will check with Bill Oehlke who assists us with two of those families to see if he can provide any additional information.  Meanwhile, can you provide us with any information on the size of this marvelous looking moth?

Unidentified Moth from Malawi

Hey! Yes, I actually have the moth! I collect insects!
It has a wingspan of about 5-6 cm and 4cm in length.
The colours on the wings are amazing!
Would you maby like me to take more pictures up close?

Bill Oehlke forwards Thierry Bouyer’s identification
I did not recognize it so asked for other opinions.
Here is what Thierry Bouyer wrote:
It’s a noctuid
Pacidara venutissima Walker, 1865 male
it’s a panafrican species that also comes to banana bait trap
The species is really beautiful !

Ed. Note:  See

Wow! Thank you so very very much!! I really appreciate it!

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What type on God’s green earth is this moth?????
Location: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
February 18, 2011 3:48 am
This photo was taken last night on the screen door of my cousin’s apartment in Cairns, Australia. What sort of moth is it??? Is there something wrong with it – it looks like it has eggs or bubbles or something on it’s head. My cousin also said it has ’horns’
Signature: Researched Out!


Dear Researched Out,
We are exhausted thinking about what it must be like to research this creature.  We believe it is a member of the superfamily Noctuoidea, and in a playful moment, we would call it a Noctuoid.  We can’t help but to wonder if that odd blue head is a trait of this moth, or if there is something alien going on.  We don’t have the time to research this at the moment, and we might even believe it would be a fruitless search.

Update from Karl
Hi Daniel and Researched Out:
I don’t know if I can advance this any further but I will give it a shot.  It is unfortunate that the photo isn’t a little sharper because there appear to be some fairly distinctive details that are frustratingly not quite discernible.  The overall appearance and color look a lot like the Fruit-piercing Moth (Noctuidae: Catocalinae), Eudocima iridescens (formerly Othreis iridescens). The front end of this moth is definitely strange and interesting and could perhaps, under certain conditions, be interpreted as covered in bubbles (if they really were bubbles then I remain stumped). It has a distinctive ruff of raised feathery hairs that looks similar to your photo. This could give the appearance of ‘horns’, and I did come across one site that described the females as having horns.  Does this look something like what you saw? Regards.  Karl.

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