Black Witch Moth Facts
- This visually stunning Lepidoptera remains best known by the common name of the Black Witch Moth. In other languages, though, it’s typically known by such other terms as La Sorcière Noire, in French, and Mariposa de la Muerte, in Spanish.
- Its official scientific name, however, remains that of the tongue-twisting Ascalapha odorata. By whichever term one chooses to refer to it, though, its stands apart from many of its related species. It further does so for more than one reason.
- The invertebrate also owes its place in the annals of entomology due to the actions of someone well known in the field. That’s because the highly respected Swedish entomologist, Carl Linnaeus made the first recognition of it as a species, in 1758.
- Unfortunately, in some cultures in part of its greater range, it has also long been associated with misfortune or death in superstition. The precise reason for this, however, eludes most modern researchers. The reputation is, of course, unfounded.
- Fortunately, the marvelous Black Witch Moth also appears to be maintaining a stable and sufficient population base. The IUCN, therefore, currently has no listing for the beautiful insect on the organizations Red List of Threatened Species.
- Despite this fortunate situation, though, it must be considered to be facing at least some potential risk. This holds true due to a combination of two factors. Throughout its range, both habitat loss and climate change continue to escalate.
Black Witch Moth Physical Description
Most of its relatives seem content to impress based on one trait alone, but not the magnificent Black Witch Moth. That’s because this Lepidoptera merits appreciation due to both its appearance and size. This insect shines in terms of both attributes, in fact.
Like many of its relatives, this arthropod displays the physiological trait of sexual dimorphism. In its case, however, it manifests this trait in two separate ways. Those ways, not surprisingly, happen to be in terms of both its sheer wingspan and visual uniqueness.
In terms of wingspan, it displays its gender-based difference in the fact that males typically develop a lesser span than females. The larger females, though, sometimes attain a truly incredible width. More precisely, their wings can span as much as 6.7 in (17 cm) across.
The sex-based differences presented by the stunning Black Witch Moth also present themselves in terms of coloring. Females, in addition to being slightly larger, also develop a lighter color. The males, meanwhile, predominantly present a dark black background.
Both genders further develop one specific shared trait. That’s the presence of a light brown on the dorsal part of the wings. This is frequently accompanied by a mottling of almost iridescent shades of pink and purple. Females, though, sometimes show a thin white bar.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Euarthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Erebidae
- Genus: Ascalapha
- Species: A. odorota
Black Witch Moth Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The breathtaking Black Witch Moth has yet another attribute worthy of respect. That’s the fact that it evolved as native to a comparatively broad section of the globe. This range, in fact, extends through portions of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
More precisely, the southern end of its range extends as far south as the country of Argentina, in South America. From there, its territory extends northward, through Central America, Mexico, and into the southern portions of the United States, in North America.
During late Spring and Summer, the marvelous arthropod migrates northward. It sometimes even does so over vast distances. At this time, it usually moves from Mexico to the continental United States. Scattered individuals have been even seen in Hawaii.
In terms of nature, it evolved as primarily nocturnal. It therefore most commonly forages for food at night. Adult specimens, furthermore, most frequently feed on overripe fruit, usually bananas. The larva also generally consumes plant leaves voraciously.
As with most Lepidoptera, its adult life cycle remains quite short. A typical lifespan for the fabulous Black Witch Moth usually equals no more than a few weeks. Meanwhile, being nocturnal, its predators typically include various types of owl and bats.