Copyright © 2018 Holly D'Oench, All Rights Reserved
The moth you see in this painting is based off the Death’s-head Hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos). I have created the scientific name Mors amplexus due to the imaginary nature of this painting.
The common name “Death’s-head Hawkmoth” actually refers to any of the three species in the Acherontia genus but A. atropos is the most widely known.
These moths have a long history of superstition surrounding them and have been used in many macabre tales such as an Edgar Allan Poe short story, Dracula, and The Silence of the Lambs movie. Their case is not helped by the fact that they emit a squeaking noise when threatened by a predator. We now know that this behavior is an attempt to deter the predator, but back in the mid-1800s, people believed it was an omen of death.
This species occurs in the Middle East and Africa but has been spreading north as winters become milder. The adults subsist on honey that they raid from the hives of the European honey bee (Apis mellifera).
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