black witch moth

Black Witch Moth and Wild Turkeys in Kailua-Kona

black witch moth hawaii

You can find a black witch moth and wild turkeys in Sacramento just as you will find them in Kailua-Kona. A black witch moth is the largest noctuid in the world, with a wing span of almost 7 inches. I discovered this black witch moth in the upper corner of our lanai cover, just sitting there quietly in late morning. Moths are most active at night, so it was odd to see it during the day. However, I’ve never seen one of these before in my life. Don’t they look a lot like bats?

Black witch moths, ascalapha odorata, are not native to Hawaii. They migrate from Mexico in the spring. If you look really closely at the forewings, you can spot a pair of matching commas in reverse. Look at the upper left and right. This black witch moth is a female, due to the white band, which features bits of iridescent purple. You can also note the size by comparing it to the small Christmas tree light bulb to the left of it.

There are all sorts of folklore and superstitions about black witch moths. From the marisposa de la muerte (butterfly of death) to winning the lottery if it lands over your doorway to the belief by native Hawaiians that a black witch moth may appear after a loved one dies as a way to say goodbye. Because I am a crazy person, sometimes I wonder that about hummingbirds. As though a hummingbird spirit is empowered by those have passed on. Even though I know for certain that is a crazy thought. It brings comfort at times to consider it.

black witch moth

This photo is of a wild tom turkey in Kailua-Kona, and boy is he mean. He runs with a harem of 7 other wild turkeys strutting through the streets of our subdivision, just above Hualalai and Nani Kailua Drive. I chased after them, trying to shoo them out of our yards, but damn turkeys don’t care. Because they are wild, they probably are not tasty, either. Nobody around our HOA owns a gun anyway, only because no board members have been threatened. Darn critters jump on your car, on the roof and, if provoked, will chase you to retaliate. The turkeys, I mean, not the HOA board. Delivering the message: don’t mess with the turkeys.

I thought about these creatures when our ragdoll Jackson freaked me. It was my first night back in Sacramento from Kona. We have no cats in Hawaii. Jackson stepped on my ankle while finding a comfy place to nestle in the covers and, for one fleeting moment, I thought I was still in Hawaii. Well, geckos don’t weigh that much. Still, for one instant, I thought it was a creature in our Hawaii bedroom that landed on me. Had to stick my foot into his fur to be certain. Only then could I go back to sleep.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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