Death’s Head Hawkmoth from India

Subject: Moth identification
Location: Patna,India
July 7, 2014 5:24 am
Dear Bugman, you have helped me many times…one more request.. I cant identify this moth. Any help will be highly appreciated.
Thanks a lot,
Chandan Singh, India
Signature: chandan singh, Greenpower India

Deathshead Hawkmoth
Death’s Head Hawkmoth

Dear Chandan Singh,
This is a Death’s Head Hawkmoth in the genus
Acherontia, and the common name is derived from the resemblance of the pattern on the thorax to the outline of a human skull.  There are three members of the genus Acherontia, and they are quite similar looking and share the common name, but the most commonly commented upon species is Acherontia atropos which is found in Europe and Africa according to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website.  Your individual is most likely Acherontia styx which is distributed in Southeast Asia according to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website.  The third member of the genus, Acherontia lachesis, is also found in India according to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic site.  Moths from this genus have a unique behavior associated with feeding that is described on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic site as:  “An avid robber of honey in bee hives (Pittaway, 1993).”  The moth is able to enter hives and rob the honey without being stung to death by the bees.  The Death’s Head Sphinx entered the realm of pop culture when it played a role in the Oscar winning film Silence of the Lambs, appearing in the movie poster as well as being an important narrative element in the script.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks a lot for the the prompt and informative reply.
Best regards

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