Death’s-head Hawkmoth Facts
- Distinctively, the eye-catching common name for this amazing Lepidoptera remains that of the Death’s-head Hawkmoth. Perhaps most notably, though, the term actually serves as the common name for a total of three species within the genus Acherontia.
- The distinctiveness of these three forms, however, does not simply stop there. That’s because, in addition to the astonishing obvious physical trait, other facts also set it apart from most other types of moths. These, in fact, are fascinating in their own right.
- First of all, the astonishing and highly unusual Death’s-head Hawkmoth evolved the ability to emit a high-pitched chirp. This action only occurs, though, when the arthropod feels either threatened or irritated. Few insects can make sounds internally.
- Secondly, all three varieties also evolved as relatively rapid fliers. In point of fact, one of them, the Acherontia atropis, constitutes the fastest known moth on earth. That’s because individuals of that species can reach speeds of up to 30 mph (48 kph).
- The IUCN, furthermore, does not currently have a listing for any of the three varieties. That’s surprising, given the fact that each of them qualifies as quite rare. Like many creatures, it obviously faces threats such as climate change and habitat loss.
Death’s-head Hawkmoth Physical Description
Not surprisingly, physical differences naturally exist between the different types of Death’s-head Hawkmoth. All three types, however, also as is to be expected, remain quite similar in terms of appearance. Many general descriptions therefore apply to them all.
It must be pointed out, though, that measured adult wingspan varies significantly, even within the same gender and species. While not unknown, this trait definitely qualifies as uncommon. Due to this fact, adults range in width of wings from 2 – 8 in (5 – 20 cm).
In addition, like the majority of Lepidoptera, this marvel of Nature displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism. As a result of this physiological trait, in its case, females generally develop slightly larger than the males. These also tend to be bulkier in shape.
The body of the magnificent Death’s-head Hawkmoth also displays a comparatively thick, bullet-shaped form. The two forewings further develop long and narrow. Yet the hindwings, however, appear much shorter, like most related forms of invertebrate.
Its coloring also varies, quite understandably. But these typically consist of combinations of shades of brown, black, gray, and yellow. The astounding presence of a human skull-like marking on the back of the thorax, however, represents its most memorable feature.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Sphingidae
- Genus: Acherontia
Death’s-head Hawkmoth Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The species bearing the common name of Death’s-head Hawkmoth also have different habitat ranges. That alone sets them apart from many of their peers. One appears in parts of Europe. The other two members of the genus, however, live in scattered sections of Asia.
All forms of this amazing insect, furthermore, seem to be highly adaptable to varying habitats. As a general rule, though, the insect appears in regions with substantial foliage. This most commonly includes temperate forests, as well as parks, and even home gardens.
The larval form of the Death’s-head Hawkmoth stays on or near a single host plant. These it feeds on voraciously. It shows no preference for type of host. The adults show a preference for honey, in addition to fruit. As a result, adults often raid the hives of honeybees.
Its own natural predators, meanwhile, consist of the same as other moths. These mainly consist of the various birds found in its region. Many bats also love to feed on it, though. Finally, the chirping ability it evolved serves the intended purpose of deterring these.