Death’s Head Hawkmoth from Dubai

Subject: Moth found
Location: Ground, weak. Thought it was dead but turned out to be alive
April 14, 2013 6:58 am
I know this isn’t really a big but I’d like to know what this moth is. What type, its name, and special features about it. I found it in school in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai. Please reply (:
Signature: Normally

Death's Head Hawkmoth
Death’s Head Hawkmoth

Dear Normally,
Your moth is a Death’s Head Hawkmoth, one of three species in the genus
Acherontia that share the common name.  The Death’s Head Hawkmoth entered modern popular culture notoriety because of its featured role in the book Silence of the Lambs and its use in the poster for the award winning movie.  You can read more about the Death’s Head Hawkmoth on the EarthSky website and other places on the internet.  We haven’t the necessary skills to differentiate the three species from photos alone, and we generally refer to the publicized range for the different species.  We believe your moth is Acherontia styx and you can find additional information on the Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website where its range is listed as: “Lower Mesopotamia (Wiltshire, 1957), Saudi Arabia (Pittaway, 1979b; Wiltshire, 1980a), eastern Oman (Wiltshire, 1975a), southern Iran and eastern Afghanistan (Ebert, 1969); as a migrant, it has been found in Turkey, Syria (Wiltshire, 1980b) and Jordan (Pittaway, 1993; Müller et al., 2005a). A. styx has recently (1982) spread right across Saudi Arabia to Jeddah (Wiltshire, 1986), and may well colonize the African mainland in the near future.”  While most moths feed on nectar, The Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic notes this species is:  “An avid robber of honey in bee hives in Oman (Pittaway, 1993). ”  Your moth might actually be the best known member of the genus Acherontia atropos, as the range listed on the Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic notes it is found in parts of the Middle East.

2 thoughts on “Death’s Head Hawkmoth from Dubai”

Leave a Comment