Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Death's head moth
The name Death's head hawkmoth usually refers to one of the two species (A. atropos and A. styx) of moth in the Acherontia genus. Found throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, this moth is easily distinguishable by a skull-shaped pattern on its back.
The skull pattern has helped the moth earn a negative reputation, such as associations with the supernatural and evil, and was featured in the movies Silence of the Lambs and Un Chien Andalou. Numerous superstitions also claim that the moth brings bad luck to the house it flies into.
The moth also has numerous other unique features, such as an ability to emit a loud squeak if irritated, and is commonly observed raiding beehives for honey. There is some contradiction in reports on whether the moth is able to enter a hive and feed undisturbed, or meets resistance and fights using its wings, usually being defeated.
The A. atropos is also very large, with a wingspan of 90-130mm, being the largest moth in some of the regions it is found in.
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