Black Witch Moth in Goleta

By Hugh

On Saturday I received a text from a friend saying he’d seen a bird-sized butterfly at The Village at Los Carneros. Upon seeing the photo, it was apparent that this was a moth, and one I’d not seen before, a Black Witch.

Luckily it was still there when I arrived some three hours after the initial sighting. The thing was huge, almost bat-like. The wingspan was about six inches. In researching the bug, this one appears to be a male. Females can be even bigger, some eight inches across, which makes them the biggest moth in North America. They are seldom seen in our county, becoming commoner the farther south you go. There are many superstitions associated with seeing one of these moths, mostly on the dark side. For instance, in Mexico, they are considered a harbinger of death.


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