Large purple moth

Asked August 27, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

Would like to know the exact species of moth I found on my house on August 19th. Attaching picture of moth.

Jefferson County Kentucky

4 Responses

The moth in your photo is a black witch moth, Ascalapha odorata, in the moth family Erebidae. These moths are native to Mexico, Central and South America, where their larvae feed on various kinds of leguminous trees. Being tropical they generally do not breed in the united States except for occasional records in the extreme south. However, almost every year, beginning about July and continuing through the fall, some adults of these moths will migrate northward, often as far north as Canada. They are strong fliers, flying mostly at night and are often mistaken for bats. They are attracted to lights, and are mostly found resting on walls under porch or street lights during the day. The specimen in your photo is in very good shape. Often by the time they get up north their wings have become quite tattered. Even though they migrate north yearly, they are not very abundant and seldom seen. For that reason, they are greatly prized by butterfly and moth collectors who happen to stumble across one. If you search for black witch moth on the internet, you will find many webpages with information and photos of this moth.

Thank you for all the information regarding the Black Witch Moth. I did look up some more information on the internet and it said the Black Witch Moth is the largest moth found in the continental United States. The moth has left my home and I would not keep it as a specimen. My picture is enough for me. I'm glad I got to see such a rare moth!

I believe the Black Witch Moth I photographed is a female. I also wanted to let you know that if you look near the antennae, there is a white spot. I observed that this white object moved and think it is some type of parasite on the moth. I tried to blow the thing off of the moth but it stayed. Thank you for responding to my query. If the white spot is a parasite, I hope it is of some interest to you.

I tried blowing up your photo to get a better look at the white spot, but it gets too blurry to see anything, It has the vague shape of a fly larva, but I know of no flies that are parasitic on the adult moths, and if they were, the larva would more likely be internal. Black witch moths will also go to and suck fluids from overripe or rotting fruits. Perhaps this insect larva accidentally crawled onto the moth in that situation. Unfortunately, without the moth or the tiny larva, it will have to remain a mystery.