The Black Witch is a huge moth that prefers a tropical habitat, but can be found in the some of the strangest locations through no fault of its own.
A member of the Lesser Underwing Moth family, the Black Witch makes grows to an enormous size. The moth is almost as large as a human hand with its wings spread. The wings are brown or dark brown. It has a large eyespot near the front edge of each forewing. A wavy, dark brown line meanders close to the bottoms of both forewings and hindwings. An iridescent purple line shaped like the letter 'm' stamps bottom of each hindwing and part of the forewing.
The normal climate of the Black Witch is tropical, which makes sightings in the U.S. and Canada both rare and a treat. Stormy weather in the more tropical parts of Mexico and southern tip of Florida can literally blow these moths north of their normal range. In the past, hurricanes in the Gulf have created a 'fallout' of Black Witch Moths. A large population of moths find themselves cloistered in the hurricane's eye until it dissipates, which may happen over states the moth would never live in. Warmer summer weather further north can also allow this moth to travel to regions that are unfamiliar with it.
Like many moths, Black Witch Moths are attracted to lights at night and are mostly nocturnal. Their coloration suggests that nightfall offers good camouflage from would-be predators like birds. Their larvae (caterpillars) feed on acacia shrubs and cassias, plants found in Mexico and other tropical regions. Caterpillars are gray with ivory, with brown markings and black stripes on the back and sides of their tubular bodies
Scientific Name: Ascalapha odorata
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 100mm to 180mm (3.90in to 7.02in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.