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Black Witch Moth (Ascalapha odorata)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Black Witch Moth, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/8/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Black Witch Moth  
Picture of Black-Witch-Moth
Picture of Black-Witch-Moth Picture of Black-Witch-MothPicture of Black-Witch-MothPicture of Black-Witch-MothPicture of Black-Witch-MothPicture of Black-Witch-Moth

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

Picture of the Black Witch Moth
Picture of the Black Witch Moth

Black Witch Moth Information

Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common Name: Black Witch Moth
Scientific Name: Ascalapha odorata

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Lepidoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Noctuidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Ascalapha
       Arrow graphic Species: odorata

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 100 mm to 180 mm (3.9 inches to 7.02 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, brown, gray, blue, yellow, white, green, violet
Additional Descriptors: dark, huge, eyespot, rare, flying, large, wavy, enormous, furry, hairy

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Florida, Texas, Mexico occasionally straying north

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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