Currently viewing the category: "Black Witch"
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Mothzilla in Venezuela
Location: Venezuela
November 4, 2010 11:31 pm
My brother sent this picture of a large moth on his window sill in Venezuela. We did some searches but could not find a similar similar one with a description. The key in the picture is a standard size which puts this one at about ~6 inches or so? He called it Mothzilla! But looking for a true identity.
Yes, you can use the image.
Signature: Two brothers

White Witch

Dear Two brothers,
This is quite exciting.  This is only the second image we have received of a White Witch, the moth with the largest wingspan in the world.  The largest specimens are 12 inches across.  The first image of a White Witch arrived last year and it was from Trinidad.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Polyphemus Moth ?
May 28, 2010
Many, many thanks for the prompt reply and posting of my “Beautiful Green Bug” (Slant-winged Katydid). Your website is fantastic and your love of all our “critters” is evident. It is refreshing to have the privilege of communicating with individuals, such as yourselves. I’m going to send a donation for your site, next week, when my retirement check comes in. I’m sending you two more pictures of a moth. Pictures were taken on my shed door the end of April 2010, during the evening. This guy was beautiful but did not move much. He was quite hign on the door which necessitated me to use the zoom on my camera. One picture is with flash and one without — take your pick. After the pictures, I left him alone and later on in the evening he departe d. I believe him to be a Polyphemus silk moth of the Saturniidae family — please correct me if I’m wrong. Again, I’m thrilled to have found your site and humbled by your obvious love of nature and efforts to preserve “Her.” Many, many thanks.
Curt
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Black Witch

Hi Again Curt,
Thanks so much for your kind words, and you are under no obligation to contribute a donation, especially if you are on a fixed income.  Donations are no guarantee that we will respond to questions.  Mostly it is a matter of luck which letters we answer and post, but we do try to find unusual creatures, wonderful photos, or interesting letters in an effort to keep What’s That Bug? vital.  This is a Black Witch, Ascalapha odorata, a tropical and subtropical species that is common in Mexico.  The Black Witch is a very powerful flier, and there are documentations going back 100 years of sightings as far north as Canada.  In recent years, perhaps due to global warming, or perhaps due to the cultivation of its food plant the acacia, the Black Witch has begun to breed in southern states.  Your specimen is a female because of the presence of the pale wing bands.  Your sighting came at an unusual time.  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. Very few US records from December-May.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mexican Moths (or butterflies)
December 29, 2009
One a cruise this August leaving Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the ships lights were drawing a large number of moths miles out to sea. One was 6-7″ across and extraordinarily “hairy” (2 photos). The other was about 3″ across the wings and with nice geometric patters (1 photo). I am submitting 2 for identification help.
Thank You
Kevin Schick
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Black Witch

Black Witch

Hi again Kevin,
Your larger moth is a Black Witch, a common species in Mexico.  In the autumn, individuals often fly north and they have been reported from Canada.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Giant moth on my screen
November 17, 2009
I was headed to work and found this guy on my screen porch. He was about 6-8 inches in wingspan.
matt
south florida

Black Witch

Black Witch

Hi Matt,
This is a Black Witch, a large neotropical moth that often migrates north.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Giant Moth in Trinidad
Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 12:46 AM
Hi, I found this moth in the rainforest on the north coast in Trinidad. I have not been able to find anything that even resembles it. Can you help me?
Malin
Grande Riviere, Trinidad, W.I.

White Witch

White Witch

Dear Malin,
We are quite excited to post your photograph.  We have received countless identification requests over the years for a related moth known as the Black Witch.  Your moth is a White Witch, Thysania agrippina, a species with the distinction of having not only the largest wingspan of any moth on the planet, but of any insect living on the planet.  Specimens have been reported that reach 12 inches in wingspan.
Fossil dragonflies though are larger and Atlas Moths have a greater surface wing area, but the White Witch can be called the largest living insect if wingspan is the means by which size is determined. The Texas Entomology website has great information as well as numerous links on the White Witch.  The metamorphosis of the White Witch was incorrectly documented by the amazing 17th Century artist and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian in her book “Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium” .

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

KonaKailua Moth?
Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 9:01 AM
We were staying in Kona Hawaii in May and this Moth(at least I think it is a moth) flew onto our lanai and then camped out for 24 hours without moving. The wing span is 6-8 inches. What is it?
Lynnette
Kona, Hawaii

Black Witch

Black Witch

hi Lynnette,
This is a Black Witch, Ascalapha odorata, a large moth in the superfamily Noctuoidea.  This is a male as evidenced by the lack of pale bands on the wings.  You can read about the Black Witch on BugGuide.   The Black Witch has much lore and superstition attached to it, especially in Mexico.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination