While they are named for the unmistakable skull pattern on their thorax, Death’s Head hawk moths have quite a few traits that are not so widely known.
The three species names Acherontia atropos, Acherontia styx, and Acherontia lachesis are all tied to Greek mythology with Atropos and Lachesis being two of the three goddesses of fate and destiny, and the river Styx as the infamous boundary between Earth and the Underworld. This association with death makes these moths a bad omen to many, and they are thought to bring bad luck and unfortunate energy. They are native to Africa, the Mediterranean, and parts of Asia, but can now be found as far north as Great Britain due to recent, mild winters.
Death’s Heads are also know as Honeybee Robbers, as they are able to produce a pheromone that mimics bees,’ and in doing so, fool the colony into allowing them inside to swipe their honey. And as if they weren’t unique enough, these little moths are also able to produce a loud squeak whenever they are feeling irritated or threatened. This noise is produced by the expulsion of air through their tube-like mouth. While it is admittedly adorable, this squeaking does its evolutionary job of warding off predators!
Check out our very own Acherontia styx specimens, mounted in a 8” x 6” natural frame on a white background to truly display their coloration.