Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

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Karin Mitton
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Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by Karin Mitton »

From wikipedia -
There are 3 species of these moths, and one of them (Acherontia atropos) occurs in Africa and Europe. The species names atropos, lachesis and styx are all from Greek myth and related to death. The moth also appeared in various movies, most notably Silence of the Lambs.

All three species have the ability to emit a loud chirp if irritated. The sound is produced by inhaling and expelling air, which vibrates the epipharynx like an accordion, often accompanied by flashing of the brightly colored abdomen in a further attempt to deter predators.

My neighbour found the caterpillar in her garden in May 2020. I kept it and a few days later it transformed into a pupae.
And this weekend the gorgeous moth emerged.

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The name comes from the markings on the back of its head that vaguely resembles a skull.

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arks
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by arks »

:big_eyes: WoW Karin! What a gorgeous moth and how fabulous that you have been able to nurture it in your garden :dance:
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colbol
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by colbol »

:clap: :clap: Karin - awsome pics of this unique moth - thanks :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Elsa
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by Elsa »

Beautiful markings and stunning pics Karin. :clap:
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by umtali1 »

Wow, Karin! That's awesome :dance: :big_eyes:
I wouldn't like to meet that on a dark night. Well done on saving the caterpillar :clap:
So many just think these creatures are unimportant to the balance of nature.
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by Marj Atkins »

Beautiful macro photography.

I can add a bit of info regarding this moth.

Death's head Hawk moths love honey and are notorious for their nocturnal raiding of beehives.

To accomplish this the moths must get past the guard bees at the entrance. They are viciously attacked, and many do not make it, however the thick cuticle that covers the body makes it harder for stingers to penetrate; it also has partial resistance to bee venom so they do make it through.

Once inside the hive they encounter little resistance because they mimic the scent of the bees!

They are considered pests by bee keepers.

I came across one of these characters a while back at the time I was filming bees constructing their amazing mathematically precise bee-hive (in a hollow log). The sound is certainly unnerving.

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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by RosemaryH »

Remarkable photos Karin :clap: :clap:

Interesting information, wow! Thanks Marj Atkins.
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Karin Mitton
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by Karin Mitton »

I kept the moth for a couple of days as I wanted a photo of it with its wings open. It was surpsisingly difficult to get such a photo! Reasons -
1. It only wake up at about 23h00
2. Then wwrrrrs around like a little helicopter
3. As soon as the light goes on, it freezes

It also escaped for a while at one stage. To see this gorgeus creature flying around in my house was quite a sight - I am sure it is bigger and heavier than some small birds! :big_eyes:

But I did manage a few photos before releasing it in the early hours of this morning. The colours are just magnifficent.

Image

The yellow on the underwing is really beautiful.

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Until next year - maybe someone will find me another caterpillar!
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Re: Moth: Death's Head Hawk-moth

Unread post by Mischief »

Karin, what a beautiful specimen and nature experience you have had with this incredibly
beautiful insect.
Marj Atkins thank you for the extra information you shared.Who would have thought honey :doh: ?
I definitely learnt something new. Never too old ........definitely appropriate.
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