Death’s-head Hawkmoth Facts
- Firstly, this is the eye-catching Lepidoptera known as the Death’s-head Hawkmoth. Most notably, though, the term serves as the common name for a total of three species within the genus Acherontia.
- Yet, the biological distinctiveness of these three forms does not stop there. In addition to the astonishing obvious physical trait, other facts also set it apart from most other types of moths.
- First of all, the Death’s-head Hawkmoth has the ability to emit a high-pitched chirp. This occurs when the arthropod feels either threatened or irritated. Very few insects can make sounds internally.
- Secondly, all three varieties form relatively rapid fliers. In fact, one of them, the Acherontia atropis, remains the fastest known moth on earth. That’s because individuals can reach speeds of up to 30 mph (48 kph).
- Finally, the IUCN does not currently have a listing for any of the three varieties – despite the fact that each of them is quite rare. Like many creatures, it faces threats such as climate change and habitat loss.
Death’s-head Hawkmoth Physical Description
To start with, differences naturally exist between the different types of Death’s-head Hawkmoth. However, all three types remain quite similar in appearance. Therefore, many descriptions apply to them all.
But, it must be noted that adult wingspan varies significantly, even within the same gender and species. While not unknown, this trait is 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, it displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism. As a result of this, in its case, females generally develop slightly larger. These also tend to be bulkier in shape.
The body displays a rather thick, bullet-shaped form. Further, the two forewings 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. Yet the astounding presence of a human skull-like marking on the back of the thorax 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 differing species bearing the common name of Death’s-head Hawkmoth also have different habitat ranges. One appears mainly in parts of Europe. The other two members of the genus, however, live in scattered sections of Asia.
Furthermore, all forms of this amazing insect seem to be highly adaptable to varying habitats. But, as a general rule, it appears in regions with substantial foliage. This most commonly includes temperate forests, as well as parks, and even home gardens.
Its larval form typically stays on or near a single host plant. These it feeds on quite voraciously. But, it shows no particular preference for type of host. The adults, however, show a decided preference for honey, in addition to fruit. As a result, adults often raid the hives of honeybees.
Further, its own natural predators consist of the same as other moths. These mainly consist of the various birds found in its region. But, many bats also love to feed on it. Finally, the remarkable chirping ability it evolved serves the intended purpose of deterring these.