Subject: Death’s-Head Hawkmoth in Dubai
Location: Dubai, UAE
February 6, 2017 6:47 am
We have a big black moth on our balcony in Dubai. It has been laying there for over a week. Every now and then it moves positions on our long balcony, but it doesn’t seem to want to leave.
We nudged it a couple of times with a broom and it is definitely alive as its wings opened up a little, but it quickly curled back and went back to rest.
After taking pictures on my camera and looking at images online, I came to the conclusion that it is the Death’s-Head Hawkmoth. But I am still unsure.
My question is, why is it absolutely still? It doesn’t move at all! At the moment, it is hiding most of its body under a pile of wood and has been there for 2-3 days. Is it hibernating or about to give birth? What is the best way to get rid of it? If it is pregnant, I am not very keen on having a bunch of caterpillars around, as I do have a massive phobia of insects!!
At the moment, the weather here ranges from 20-25 Celcius during the day to 15-20 Celcius at night.
Thanks for your help! 🙂
Though your image does not include the distinctive, namesake, skull-like markings on the thorax of this Death’s Head Hawkmoth, the markings on the wings and abdomen do indicate your identification is correct. According to the BBC: “Unlike other moths, death’s-head hawkmoths mostly eat honey, which is thick and gloopy compared to nectar. So Brehm thinks the moths modified their sucking action to allow the viscous honey to flow freely. … To get honey, death’s-head hawkmoths enter the hives of honeybees (Apis mellifera).” According to UK Safari: “The larvae feed on potato plants, Buddleia and Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna).” Unless you have those plants on your balcony, you will not be seeing caterpillars. After emergence from the pupa, the adult moth takes flight. Flying takes a tremendous amount of energy and the moth must feed in order to be able to continue flying. Perhaps this individual is waiting to attract a mate before taking flight again to lay eggs on the appropriate host plant. If there is a light on your balcony, this moth might have been attracted to the light. We do not provide extermination advice.
Thanks so much for getting back to me!
Funny thing is, we do have a light on the balcony, but we almost never turn it on, it’s a really faint light thats pretty useless to us, so we don’t bother with it. However there is a floodlight on the facade of the building right next to our flat, that is sometimes turned on, so that might be what attracted it to us.
The only plants we have out there are cactus, some desert plants and one hibiscus.
I guess I’m wondering how long it will stay on our balcony, and if we were to take it to the edge, would it be able to fly?
I am constantly nervous going out there, so I’m trying to figure out a cruel free way of removing it! 🙂
Our personal experience with moths in the family is that they may remain a few days, but eventually, when they are ready, they fly off. It you don’t use the balcony, just let nature take its course.