Currently viewing the category: "Black Witch"

Location: Amazon River, Brazil
Ed. Note:  Tracey sent this photo in a follow up to a 3 Sphinxes from the Amazon posting.  We have requested additional information. 

White Witch from Brazil

Hi again Daniel
The white witch photograph was taken on 15 Feb 2011.  I can’t tell you the exact location but we travelled in a riverboat from Manaus in Brazil “for approximately 45 minutes on the Rio Negro to reach Guedes Lake”. (Can’t find it on a map)  We took a walk from the waterside not far inland.  It was taken mid morning local time and the moth flew away seconds after.
…  I’m very pleased you all liked them.

Ed Note:  June 11, 2013
We have been reading Chrysalis, the biography on Maria Sybilla Merian, and it has a wonderful account of raising the caterpillar in Surinam that resulted in this marvelous ecological drawing of a White Witch.

big butterfly from buenos aires
Location: buenos aires, argentina
January 22, 2012 3:04 pm
Hello wtb, today when I woke up and went to the bathroom to wash my face I found this big butterfly grabed to the hand towel. It gave me a good scare. It has not moved the entire day, I wonder if it’s alive. I wish I had a better camera so I could take macro shots of it but the ones I’m attaching I think are fine.
Regards from argentina.
Signature: gabxolotl

Black Witch

Dear gabxolotl,
This is a moth known as a Black Witch,
Ascalapha odorata, not a butterfly as you speculated.  There are many superstitions surrounding this wide ranging species as well as many colorful common names, many of which are indicated on BugGuide.  Your submission is the southernmost report we have ever received for a Black Witch and BugGuide does not even list South America as part of the range.  Wikipedia, however, does include the common name  “Pirpinto de la Yeta” from Argentina.  The Texas Entomology page has a nice report on the natural and cultural history of the Black Witch and the same name is listed for Argentina.

big moth
Location: San Pedro California
September 28, 2011 9:23 pm
This big moth, or whatever it is was found in the eaves om my neighbors house. I would guess it’s about 6 inches wing tip to wing tip.
Signature: Delbert Crawford

Black Witch

Hi Delbert,
Your moth is a Black Witch, a common species in Mexico and Central America.  As early as the late 19th Century, there were reports of Black Witches making northern migrations in the fall, and they are sometimes found as far north as Canada.  In recent years, Black Witches have naturalized in the states closest to the Mexican border.  Perhaps global warming is contributing to the northern range expansion.  The white diagonal bars on the wings indicates that your specimen is a female Black Witch.

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!

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.”

Trinidad Moths
Location: Trinidad
July 10, 2011 1:35 pm
Dear Bugman,
I found your homepage by chance when I tried to identify 3 very large moths we saw two weeks ago in Trinidad.
No1 is probably a white witch (picture taken at Asa Nature Lodge); No2 should be a Rothschildia taken at the ladies restroom in the visitor Centre of the Caroni swamps. No3 is a large silkmoth (at least 10cm wingspan)we had at the Radio and Tropospheric Scatter Station at Morne Bleu (670m high in the northern range). It would be nice, if you could help me with identification and/or confirmation of the three species.
Signature: Harald (Heidelberg, Germany)

White Witch

Dear Harald,
WE are positively thrilled to have received your marvelous photos from Trinidad, but since the three moths represent three different families (and three categories in our archives) we are going to split them up into distinct postings.  We are starting with the White Witch,
Thysania agrippina, a spectacular species that has the largest wingspan of any New World moth, and according to some experts, the greatest wingspan of any moth in the world.  The specimen you photographed is in such pristine condition, it is probably making collectors who visit our site salivate with desire, however, we would much rather see a living individual than a perfect specimen mounted in a collection.  We will make the subsequent postings later in the day.

Great Big Moth!
Location: Milwaukee, WI
November 15, 2010 11:49 pm
When I was out feeding my feral kitties this afternoon I saw what I thought was a leaf poking out of the slats of the porch. Looking closer, I saw that it had antennae and little legs! The wing span was about 4-5 inches and was a pale greyish brown with some darker accent marks.
I thought at first the beastie was dead- I live in Wisconsin and it is, after all, mid-November, so I tried to pick it up. I just about jumped out of my skin when the thing came to life and started to wiggle it’s legs! I left it on the porch to do it’s mothy business. When I went to take a photograph the wind blew the moth over and I saw it had a fuzzy, dark rusty-colored body and lighter orange-red color on the underside of it’s wings. Do you know what this is? I’ve never seen a moth so big!
Thank you for your help!
Signature: Angela

Owl Moth

Dear Angela,
This is a very exciting report for us.  This is an Owl Moth,
Thysania zenobia, a neotropical species that is found in Mexico, and the only U.S. reports on BugGuide are from Texas, however, the info page on BugGuide contains this information:  “Recorded through much is eastern North America east of the Rockies: AR, CT, FL, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, ND, NY, OH, RI, SC, SD, TX, WI; Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia. Ranges south into South America. Range map.”  The Texas Entomology website has this information: “Caveney (2007) reports 14 Owl moth records from Canada. The western-most and northern-most record was collected in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Neil (1979) reports the eastern-most record at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. It was collected in late summer or early fall 1944. The specimen is in the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, Halifax.

Update: November 16, 2010
Hi again Angela.  We looked again at the Range Map provided by the Texas Entomology website and there are four reported sightings from Wisconsin.  There is a cluster of three sightings in the 1940s in Kewaunee and a single sighting in 1999 from Bayfield Co., N. Great Lakes Visitor Center, nr. Ashland.  You may want to contact Mike Quinn at the Texas Entomology website and report your sighting.

Sept 21, 1999