The Black Witch

Maybe you already love moths. Maybe you already know how spectacular they are. If not, I’d like to show you.

Female Ascalapha odorata. Cuernavaca, Mexico.

This amazing creature is Ascalapha odorata, commonly known as the Black Witch moth. The one pictured above is a female – you can tell by the white diagonal bars across her wings. Males don’t have these markings.

Male Ascalaphus Odorata. Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Male Ascalaphus odorata. Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The first thing you notice about these moths is their impressive size. This species holds the title of the largest moth found north of Mexico. (On a side note, if this is not the largest moth I can find here in Mexico, I’d like to know what is…and just how big is it?) The male shown above was hidden up in the rafters of the outdoor porch. It was difficult to get a picture, let alone try to measure him. But I estimate his wing span was at least 15 centimeters (~6 inches). The female I found on the floor in a corner, and was able to hold a ruler above her to get a better idea of her measurements. From tip to tip, her wingspan was ~15 cm. From her head to the tip of her abdomen, she measured ~6 cm (~2.4 inches).

The second thing you notice about these moths is their beautiful markings – the large spots on the wings that look something like eyes, the swirls of different shades of brown, the beautiful pink, purple, and blue iridescent scales! In short, these animals are stunning!

And they reminded me of a saying I’ve heard here in Mexico:

I don’t believe in witches…but they fly!

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