What’s With All These Black Butterflies?

They aren’t butterflies, they’re harbingers of death. Boo!

It seems that, just as we were invaded by yellow butterflies last month, we are now being invaded by black moths. Here’s the why and what to do. Pay attention.

Black moths, known commonly as Black Witch, is considered a harbinger of death in Mexican and Caribbean folklore. In Spanish they are known as "Mariposas de la muerte" (butterlys of death). Although they are not butterflies.

Other names for the moth include the Papillion-devil, La Sorcière Noire, or the Mourning or Sorrow moth.

Black moths are a large bat-shaped, dark-colored nocturnal moth. Females can attain a wingspan of almost seven inches. The dorsal surfaces of their wings are mottled brown with hints of iridescent purple and pink, and, in females, crossed by a white bar. Males lack this bar and are somewhat smaller and darker in color. The larva is a large caterpillar up to three inches in length.

The black witch moth is found throughout Central America and Mexico and  is the largest noctuid found in the continental United States. Adults feed on overripe rainforest fruit, especially bananas, and larvae consume the leaves of plants. Most of its host plants are legumes. It attacks mesquite and edible fig, and can be an agricultural pest.

In many cultures, one of these moths flying into the house is considered bad luck. In Mexico, when there is sickness in a house and this moth enters, it is believed the sick person is a goner. In some parts of Mexico, people joke that if one flies over someone's head, that person is destined to lose his hair. Another type of goner.

It happened once that one of these flew into our Acapulco home several years ago. A few hours later one of my uncles died. Spooky.

Oh, and what to do about them? One of my loyal readers called me earlier this week saying that his home was full of them, and what could he do? I said, “my four cats can take care of them.” He then invited me and my cats for dinner at his place. I thought about starting a new business. Rent-A-Cat. Ha ha ha.