---> Natural & Cultural History <---
---> Records by Date <---
---> Map of Migration by Month <---
|Southwest & Pacific:||New Mexico||Arizona|
|Northern Gulf Coast||Louisiana||Mississippi|
|Other Southern States
Black Witch moths occur widely in Texas. My realization of that fact came about gradually.
I started collecting Black Witch records in 2001 which was a relatively good year for the species. That year, 14 records were reported to the TX-Butterfly Listserv. Only a few were reported for 2002. However in 2003, hundreds of the moths were seen in the eye of Hurricane Claudette when it came ashore at Port O'Connor on July 15. Notably, very few individuals were reported from Texas prior to the hurricane's landing bringing into question where the moths came from. (More on this later.)
The reports compiled in June 2001 suggest this insect is mostly encountered in the eastern half of Texas, similar to the typical Monarch migration pattern (as posted to the Journey North website from March 1 to June 25, 2004). However, 2004 showed a statewide migratory pattern. In early June 2004, records initially appeared to be coming primarily from along the Gulf Coast with scattered records inland. But by the end of June 2004, hundreds (!) of records of the species were reported from the greater Midland area from Alpine to Fort Stockton to Big Spring to Seagraves. (These reports were prompted by a request for sightings by KWES-TV, NewsWest 9.) Burr Williams (Director of the Sibley Nature Center in Midland, pers. comm., 2004) said that they usually see about one Black Witch per year, usually during the first week of July, but in 2004 he saw multiple individuals starting in mid June. In 2004, one person putting out rotten bananas in Midland attracted eight moths at one time! Add in the number of reports from New Mexico and Arizona, and it appears that the moth migrated north across a broad front from the Gulf of Mexico through most of the southwest in 2004.
In 2004, Ray Little, of Rockport, volunteered to regularly drive a 25 mile patrol of South Matagorda Island, Calhoun Co. during May and June to look for nesting sea turtles (all of which are state and federally listed as threatened or endangered). This barrier island is assessable only by plane or boat. Driving this route on a Polaris 4 Wheeler, Ray kept track of the number of Black Witches that, upon his passing, flew up out of the sargassum that sometimes was piled two feet high at high tide. (Example of sargassum on a shore line.) He found none of the moths during May patrols prior to May 30, the date I began receiving multiple daily reports of Black Witches from across Texas in 2004. Very similar numbers were reported from a static location (in the north facing eaves of one of the buildings) one county to the south at the Aransas Pass Light Station in Aransas Co.
Ray Little's Data from 25 mile patrols on South Matagorda Island, Calhoun Co., 2004
| Aransas Pass Light Station on
Harbor Island, Aransas Co., 2004
McCurtain Co. Idabel ~01 June 2004
Tulsa Co. Broken Arrow (Tulsa) 24 June 2004 slightly worn, pic (seen by MAQ) Washington Co.
Sutton Avian Res. Center 28 June 2012 BugGuide Photo Cleveland Co. Norman 27 June 2004 Male, slightly worn, photo Tillman Co. Grandfield 01 July 2004 Male, flying around in the garage Pontotoc Co,
TNC Pontotoc Ridge Pres., HQ
06 July 2010 LepSoc Season Summary Comanche Co. Lawton 08 July 2004 Male Bryan Co. Durant 24 July 2012 sighting
Grady Co. Tuttle 08 Aug 2005 worn individual Cherokee Co.
TNC Nickel Preserve
11 Aug 2006 LepSoc Season Summary Cimarron Co.
Boise City, 1.5 mi S.
18 Aug 2010 LepSoc Season Summary Jefferson Co.
Hastings, Moneka Park 27 Aug 2011 LepSoc Season Summary Roger Mills Co.
03 Sept 2007 LepSoc Season Summary Texas Co.
10 Sept 1998 LepSoc Season Summary Bryan Co. Cartwright 18 Sept 2005 Female, in very good condition Noble Co.
I-35 @ Perry
21 Sept 1998 LepSoc Season Summary Oklahoma Co.
Oklahoma City 24 Oct 2007 BugGuide Photo
Tulsa Co. Tulsa 12 Oct 2003
New Mexico Records
New Mexico's records start in mid-June and continue through July. The same pattern is seen in Arizona.
|Doņa Ana Co.||no specific locality||?? April 1999|
|Grant Co.||Silver City||29 May 2010
|Sandoval Co.||Rio Rancho||06 June 1996||Museum of SW Biology, UNM|
|Apparent onset of BWM migration in New Mexico
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||11 June 2004||s. valley, nr. Rio Grande Bosque|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Hatch||12 June 1960|
|Eddy Co.||Carlsbad||14, 17, 21 June 2004|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Las Cruces||15 June 2004||Picacho Hills|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Fairacres||16 June 2004|
|Santa Fe Co.||Santa Fe||17 June 2004||Downtown|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||19 June 2004||Photo|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||20 June 2004||3-5 from Rio Grande Bosque to NE Heights/Foothills at 6500'|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||21 June 2004||Male, photo, flew to Mimosa tree|
|Eddy Co.||24 mi. E. Carlsbad||22 June 1977|
|Catron Co||Zuni Salt Lake||23 June 2004||So. shore of cinder cone lake|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Las Cruces||24 June 2004|
|Lea Co.||Jal||Late June 2004||(SE corner of NM)|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Las Cruces||04 July 1976|
|Roosevelt Co.||4 mi. se. of Portales||04 July 1989|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Fairacres||09 July 2004||Three|
|Bernalillo Co.||Sandia Park||10 July 2004||Sandia Mtns E. of Albuquerque|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Las Cruces||12 July 1968|
||Alamogordo||12 July 2008
|DeBaca Co.||no specific locality||18 July 1964|
|Doņa Ana Co.||Las Cruces||19 July 2004|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||22 July 1993||Museum of SW Biology, UNM|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||25 July 1963||Museum of SW Biology, UNM|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||29 July 1970||INHS Insect Collection|
|Doņa Ana Co.||near La Cueva||31 July 2004||Organ Mountains|
|Bernalillo Co.||Albuquerque||10 Aug 2007
|Colfax Co.||Eagles Nest||23 Aug 1960||INHS Insect Collection|
Black Witch records in Arizona, like those of New Mexico,
begin in mid-June. But in additon to the mid-June through July
records as seen in NM, data for AZ also show an equal number in August
plus a slug of around 50 records ca. August 8.
|Maricopa Co.||Peoria (Phoenix suburb)||16 June 2004||Male, Photos|
|Mohave Co.||Mohave Valley||19 June 2004||Male, photographed|
|Maricopa Co.||Wickenburg||20 June 2005||Female, near fresh, photo (MAQ)|
||San Pedro River Valley||20 June 2012
|Yuma Co.||Yuma, AZ Western Coll||21 June 2004||Female|
|Pima Co.||Tucson||23 June 2004|
||Greer||23 June 2012
|Pima Co.||Green Valley||25 June 2010||BugGuide Photo|
|Maricopa Co.||Gilbert (Phoenix suburb)||27 June 2004||(Phoenix suburb)|
|Santa Cruz Co.||Madera Canyon||30 June 2004||Two, photos (seen by MAQ)|
|Maricopa Co.||Peoria (Phoenix suburb)||30 June 2004||(Phoenix suburb)|
|Cochise Co.||Garden Canyon||02 July 2004||Huachuca Mountains, Sierra Vista
|Pima Co.||Tucson||03 July 2004|
|Pima Co||Sahuarita||04 July 2004|
|Maricopa Co.||Chandler (Phoenix burb)||05 July 2004||"tattered wing tips"|
|Santa Cruz Co.||Harshaw Creek||20 July 2003||near Patagonia|
|Gila Co.||Payson||23-27 July 2004||Two females, pix (seen by MAQ)|
|Santa Cruz Co.||Pena Blanca nr Nogales||24 July 2005||"very worn, came to an MV light"|
|Coco Co.||Walnut Cyn SE Flagstaff||27 July 2004||Female, fairly worn, at MV lights|
|Pinal Co.||10 mi NE Kearney||29 July 2004||(Plus two other dead BWMs)|
|Santa Cruz Co.||Box Cyn, nr Madera Cyn||30 July 2004||Female, fairly worn, at MV lights|
|Santa Cruz Co.||Green Valley||03 Aug 2004|
|Santa Cruz Co.||Sonoita||03 Aug 2005||Female, ~fresh, pic (seen by MAQ)|
|Pima Co.||Babquavri Mts,||07 Aug 2005||4 adults (Brown Cyn)|
|Santa Cruz Co.
||08 Aug 2000 ~
||at least 50 sheltering in old shack|
||Marana||10 Aug 2010||BugGuide Photo|
|Pima Co.||Arivica Creek||20 Aug 2005||at lights, fide B. Walsh|
|Yavapai||Skull Valley||20 Aug 2007||BugGuide Photo|
|Maricopa Co.||Peoria||23 Aug 2005||"on the eave of my house"|
|Maricopa Co.||Surprise||23 Aug 2009||BugGuide Photo|
|Santa Cruz Co.||31 Aug 2005||BAMONA
|Pima Co.||Tucson||12 Sept 2006||photo of adult BWM emerging|
||nr. Sedona||26 Sept 2010||BugGuide Photo|
|Pima Co.||Sahuarita||09 Oct 2005||fresh male, photo (seen by MAQ)|
|Pima Co.||Boquivari Mtns.||?? Oct 1923||INHS Insect Collection|
|Yavapai Co.||Chino Valley||03 Nov 1995||LepSoc Season Summary
(text needs updating post Tropical Storm Cindy)
The only other report of more than five moths in a single location received in 2004 were the "dozens" reported from Grand Isle, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana on 15 June 2004 by Wayne Keller. When I first received news of the Grand Isle dozens, I thought that many clustered that far north may have resulted from a moth version of the Trans-Gulf fallout that frequently famously occurs in nearby High Island. If so, then it appears from the Aransas and Calhoun Counties (just north of Corpus Christi) that conditions may have been right for a fallout over a long stretch of the middle and upper coasts. Alternately, the dozens seen in southwest Louisiana on June 15 may have resulted from a migratory push up the coast from the Corpus Christi area. Double digit moths were counted in this area as early as June 8, 2004. (If anyone knows how to access archived weather data from this region and time period, please contact me. Thanks!) If multiple individuals are reported away from the coast, they were most likely attracted to black lights or to bait.
I find the coastal Louisiana records from Grand
Beach, and Buras
to be most interesting. The Gulf
Coast plain along southern Louisiana certainly does not have much in
the way of caterpillar food plants to draw the moths to that location.
Also contrast the report of dozens of Black witches at Grand
Isle to the near absence of coastal Monarchs from Louisiana in the
spring of 2002
It appears that as the Gulf Coast bends to the east, the Monarch primarily
keeps heading north.
|St. John Parish||?||13 Feb. ????||per Brou 2003|
|?||?||?? Mar ????||per Brou 2003|
|Jefferson Parish||Grand Isle||15 June 2004||"Dozens" (Not asso. w/ any storms)|
|Plaquemines Parish||Buras||17 June 2004|
|Lafayette Parish||n. portion of parish||20 June 2004|
|Grant Parish||Prospect||20 June 2004|
|E. Baton Rouge Pa.||Baton Rouge||22 June 2004|
|Cameron Parish||Holly Beach||26 June 2004||7 moths seen in ~6 hrs.|
|Jefferson Parish||Grand Isle||07 July 2005||"Thousands" in eye of TS Cindy|
|St. Bernard Parish||Arabi||08 July 2005||Post TS Cindy|
|Plaquemines Parish||Buras/Venice||7-8 July 2005||Two in two days, Post TS Cindy|
|Jefferson Parish||Marrero||08 July 2005||Post TS Cindy|
|Jefferson Parish||Grand Isle||10 July 1941||LA St. Arthropod Museum|
|Orleans Parish||New Orleans||11 July 2005||2 males, Downtown, Post TS Cindy|
|E Baton Rouge Pa.||Baton Rouge||16 July 2005||worn male, photo (seen by MAQ)|
|E. Baton Rouge Pa.||Baton Rouge, LSU||23 July 1984||LA St. Arthropod Museum|
|E. Baton Rouge Pa.||Baton Rouge||29 July 1960||LA St. Arthropod Museum|
|Vermillion Parish||Perry||06 Aug 1992||LA St. Arthropod Museum|
|E. Baton Rouge Pa.||Baton Rouge||21 Sept 1971||LA St. Arthropod Museum|
|St. Tammany Parish||Abita Springs||09 Oct ????||per Brou 2003|
|St. Tammany Parish||Abita Springs||10 Nov ????||per Brou 2003|
|St. Tammany Parish||Abita Springs||30 Nov ????||per Brou 2003|
Mississippi RecordsAppriximately 20 BWMs were seen in Mississippi after TS Cindy made landfall on July 5, 2005. I've only found one MS BWM prior to 2005.
See discussion of Tropical Storm Cindy
Harrison Co. Gulfport 05 July 2005 fresh female, clipped male, photos (seen by MAQ) Jackson Co. Ocean Springs 6-8 July 2005 ~10, photos of many (seen by MAQ) Harrison Co. Long Beach 07 July 2005 male observed Harrison Co. Gulfport 05 July 2005 2 males, 2 females, in fig tree, pix (seen by MAQ) Harrison Co. Biloxi 08 July 2005 "multiple males and females" Harrison Co. Pass Christian 10 July 2005 female, photo (seen by MAQ) Jackson Co.
Ocean Springs 30 Aug 2005
Jackson Co. Gautier 16 Sept 2011
BugGuide Photo Jackson Co. Ocean Springs 26 Sept 2003
fresh male, photo
There are five Black Witch specimens (with labels) in the Kansas State University Museum of Entomological and Prairie Arthropod Research (KSU-MEPAR), a collection begun in 1879 and estimated to contain approximately 824,000 total specimens. Of the five Ascalapha specimens, the most recently collected was from 1939! In less than 30 days in 2004, six were reported from Kansas! Four more were reported in 2005. Howe also collected Black Witch moths at bait in Ottawa, Kansas which I don't have data for.
Hamilton Co. Syracuse 11 June 2004
Crawford Co. Cherokee 12 June 2005
Saline Co. Salina 14 June 2005
Ellis Co. Hays 20 June 2012
Ellis Co. Hays 22 June 2004
25 June 1934 KSU-MEPAR Coll Sumner Co. Milton 02 July 2004
Finney Co. Garden City 03 July 2004
Riley Co. Manhattan 04 July 2004 Two records
Riley Co. Manhattan 06 July 1939 KSU-MEPAR Coll Riley Co. Manhattan 09 July 1912 KSU-MEPAR Coll Crawford Co. Pittsburg 20 July 2005
Hamilton Co. Syracuse 27 July 1925 KSU-MEPAR Coll Riley Co. Manhattan 07 Aug 1929
Sedgwick Co. Wichita 07 Oct 2005
Riley Co. Manhattan 10 Oct 1931 KSU-MEPAR Coll
Similar to Kansas' holdings, there are four Black Witch specimens in the Division of Entomology at the University of Nebraska State Museum, a collection of 2 million pinned specimens. The first record from 2004 closely matches the historical first record for Nebraska.
Hall Co. Grand Island 30 June 2004
Platte Co. Columbus 01 July 1958 UN State Museum Lancaster Co. Lincoln 03 July ???? UN State Museum Lancaster Co. Lincoln 18 July 1965 UN State Museum Lancaster Co. Lincoln 23 July 1931 UN State Museum
Ray Stanford (Lepidopterists' Society Coordinator for Colorado, pers. comm., 2004) reports "All in all, I think we have about 20 distinct Colorado records, from both east and west slopes, and from NM to WY. Perhaps 10 of the 64 counties." I only have the specifics on a portion of the Colorado records:
|Garfield Co.||New Castle||11 June 2004|
|Weld Co.||Greeley||14 June 2004||Photo (seen by me)|
|Lake Co.||Leadville||04 July 1892*||Collected in a snow storm!|
|Jefferson Co.||Indian Gulch||04 July 1999||Clear Creek Canyon|
|La Plata Co.||3 mi NW Bayfield||08 July 2004||Pine River|
|Boulder Co.||Louisville||15 July 2004|
|Boulder Co.||Lafayette||16-17 July 2004||Photo (seen by me)|
|Teller Co.||Big Spring Ranch||?? July 1984|
|Pueblo Co.||Pueblo||30 Aug 1968|
*This is the earliest U.S. record that I've found.
The data from the five Black Witch specimens (collected before 2004) in the University of Wyoming Insect Museum, a collection with holdings estimated at more than a quarter of a million specimens, are a bit different from those collected in Nebraska, Kansas, and Illinois in that they were all collected in one county and primarily in the 1990s.
The male collected on 05 July 1995 in Laramie had a wingspan of a mere ~ 9.5 cm or about 3.7 inches!!!
Albany Co. Laramie (1 mi east) 28 June 1991 Male, at black light trap, UW Insect Museum Albany Co. Laramie 01 July 1993 Male, UW Insect Museum Albany Co. Laramie 05 July 1995 Male, UW Insect Museum Sheridan Co. Sheridan 12 July 2004 Female, worn, UW Insect Museum Teton Co. Jackson 14 July 2004 Male, fresh Sublette Co. Daniel 25 July 2004 Male, Photo (seen by me) Albany Co. Laramie 28 July 1993 Male, UW Insect Museum Albany Co. Laramie 07 Aug 1946 Male, UW Insect Museum
These data were drawn from a variety of sources. The pre-2004 records are primarily from the California Moth Specimen Database. Black Witch records averaged slightly less than two per decade from the 1950s through the 1990s. Records since late June 2004 occurred about once a week. The first record of 2004 preceded by three weeks the earliest specimen record. Surprisingly, only two of the eleven records are from the same county, Sacramento. Three-fifths of all records are from July.
In 2004, The Orange County Register ran a front page story on the Black Witch which generated 37 reports not yet included here. Dates ranged from August 12 to about two months prior. The following cites generated BWM reports based on the ORC article:
Orange County: Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley Fullerton, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Rancho Santa Margarita, Santa Ana, Westminster
Los Angeles County: La Mirada, Lakewood, Long Beach
San Diego County: Coronado
Del Norte County: Crescent City
|San Diego Co.
||11 June 2012
|Orange Co.||Fullerton||23 June 2004|
|Tulare Co.||Dinuba||28 June 1958||UC-Davis|
|Sta. Barbara Co.||Santa Barbara||29 June 2004||Somewhat worn female, photos|
|San Joaquin Co.||Stockton
||30 June 2000||California Moth Specimen Database|
|Sacramento Co.||Cosumnes River Pres.||02 July 2004||Male (location is south of Sacramento)|
|San Francisco Co.||San Francisco||05 July 2004||Male, worn|
|Apparent onset of BMW migration in CA, possibly resulting from 2nd generation of moths in Mexico
|Contra Costa Co.||Kensington||13 July 1973||California Academy of Sciences|
|Riverside Co.||w. of Palm Springs||16 July 2004||Female, somewhat worn, elev. 4176'|
|Nevada Co.||Alta Sierra||17 July 2001||Female, 2400', LepSoc Season Summary|
|Sacramento Co.||Sacramento||18 July 1973||LepSoc Season Summary|
|Humboldt Co.||Kneeland||18 July 2001|
|Yolo Co.||east Davis||24 July 1982||LepSoc Season Summary|
|San Bernardino Co.||Upland||27 July 2008||BugGuide photo|
|Sacramento Co.||Sacramento||28 July 2004||American River College, Bio. Dept.|
|Santa Clara Co.||San Jose
||29 July 2006||BugGuide photo|
|Los Angeles Co.||Venice
||30 July 2005||BugGuide photo|
|Orange Co.||Costa Mesa||31 July 2004||photo|
|San Diego Co.||Lemon Grove||31 July 2008||BugGuide photo|
|Orange Co.||Laguna Beach||03 Aug 2004
||LepSoc Season Summary|
|Ventura Co.||Ventura City||04 Aug 1991||180', T. Dimock|
|San Diego, Orange, and LA counties
||07 Aug 2008||~ 40 reports triggered by OCR article
|San Mateo Co.||San Bruno Mtns||08 Aug 1983||Male, California Academy of Sciences|
||09 Aug 2012
|San Diego, Orange, and LA counties
||12 Aug 2004
||~ 37 reports triggered by OCR article
|Riverside Co.||Palm Desert
||13 Aug 2008||BugGuide photo|
|Los Angeles Co.||Torrance||13 Aug 2010||BugGuide photo|
|San Diego Co.||Mira Mesa||15 Aug 2009||BugGuide photo|
|San Diego Co.||15 Aug 2012||2 - BAMONA|
|Los Angeles Co.||25 Aug 2012||BAMONA
|Los Angeles Co.||San Pedro||26 Aug 2012||BugGuide photo
|San Diego Co.||San Diego
||26 Aug 2010||BugGuide photo|
|Mariposa Co.||near Mariposa||?? Sept 1984||LepSoc Season Summary|
|Alameda Co.||Berkeley||11 Sept 1963||California Insect Survey|
|Alameda Co.||17 Sept 2011
|San Diego Co.||San Diego||11 Oct 1958||Female, SDNHM|
|Los Angeles Co.||Artesia||30 Oct 1991||Photo (seen by MAQ)|
The first Black Witch moth from Hawaii was observed in 1928 (Sewezy & Bryan, 1929). James Snyder (pers. comm., 2004) reports that the Black Witch Moth is now very common in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Big Island): "They frequently perch on my garage door or house eves. I see both males and females almost every day."
Bernarr Kumashiro (Insect Taxonomist, Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture, Pers. Comm., 2004) writes:
| Since larvae come out at night to feed on foliage,
and hide under bark during the day, it is difficult to assess
population levels. I'm not sure if anyone has light traps set up
which may occasionally collect adults. Generally speaking, though,
no one usually complains about their monkeypod or shower tree
being chewed up by something. In the 70's when I looked for Melipotis
indomita, also found hidden in the bark, I rarely came
across A. odorata larvae. My guess is that they are almost
always at low levels on Oahu. Probably the same for the neighbor
Illinois Natural History Survey Insect Collection (INHS) currently houses over 6 million curated specimens, yet the date and number of in-state A. odorata specimens therein are surprisingly similar to the dates and number in the to those in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. The most recently collected Black Witch specimen in the INHS is from 1930 vs. 1939 in the KSU-MEPAR. The first 2004 record matched the historical first record for Illinois, July 11th.
Cook Co. Chicago 10 July 2004 Male, photos, (seen by me) Lee Co. Lee Center 11 July 1910 (specimen in INHS Collection) Cook Co. River Grove 11 July 2004 Female, fresh, sight record Cook Co. Chicago 14 July 1907 (specimen in INHS Collection) Stephenson Co. Freeport 16 July 1978 slightly worn male, at commercial light Marshall Co. Lacon 30 July 1926 (specimen in INHS Collection) Cook Co. Chicago (north side) 31 July 2002 Lep. Soc. Season Summary Union Co. Alto Pass 10 Aug 1996 Lep. Soc. Season Summary Stephenson Co. Freeport 14 Aug 1976 very worn male, at commercial lights Marshall Co. Lacon 20 Aug 1930 (specimen in INHS Collection) Champaign Co. Urbana 11 Sept 1930 (specimen in INHS Collection) Jefferson Co. 2 miles se of Belle Rive 23 Oct 2004 fresh female under garage eave, photos
*The INHS holds another five specimens collected outside of Illinois.
The follow records primarily provided by Leslie A. Ferge, Coordinator of the Midwest: Zone for the Lepidopterists' Society's Season Summary. Most records are from August which fits with the state's northern latitude.
June 1 July 1 Aug. 3 Sept. 1
|St. Croix Co.||Hudson||16-17 June 2005||Pix of early northernmost record|
|Brown Co.||Green Bay||01 Jul 1985||Specimen at Univ. of Wisconsin|
|Milwaukee Co.||Glendale||04 Aug 1971|
|Grant Co.||Cassville||09 Aug 1986||Collected at sugar bait|
|Milwaukee Co.||West Allis||14 Aug 1999|
|Madison Co.||Douglas Solon Springs||24 Sep 1994||Collected at UV light|
All the BWM records from 1960 and earlier listed below are from the Albert J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection (ARC) at Michigan State University, a collection established in 1867, which now holds more than 2 million pinned specimens, though only about 185,000 lepidoptera specimens. Only two of the post-1960 records are from MSU's ARC.
|Midland Co.||04 June 1947|
|Livingston Co.||22 June 2005|
|Ingham Co.||15 July 1995|
|St. Clair Co.||21 July 1949|
|Van Buren Co.||24 July 2004|
|Muskegon Co.||25 July 2004|
|Ingham Co.||30 July 1919|
|Livingston Co.||10 Aug. 1960|
|Chippewa Co.||22 Aug 2000|
|Eaton Co.||25 Aug. 1953|
|Kent Co.||01 Sept. 1999|
|Macomb Co.||09 Sept. 1940|
|Kent Co.||10 Sept 1999|
||25 Sept. 2015
|Genesee Co.||26 Oct. 1998|
The following records are primarily from The Ohio Lepidopterists, with support from the Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The May 19th record is exceptionally early. Most records are from July and August.
May 1 June 0 July 5 Aug. 4 Sept. 1 Oct. 1
|Jackson Co.||Jackson||19 May 1937||(Probably human assisted)|
|Lucas Co.||Maumee Bay St Pk||07 July 2012||worn f., pix (seen by MAQ)|
|Ottawa Co.||South Bass Island||16 July 1941|
|Wayne Co.||Wooster||18 July 1977||Ohio Ag. R & D Center|
|Cuyahoga Co.||Bay Village||21 July 1986|
|Miami Co.||Tipp City||29 July 200||female|
|Ross Co.||Tar Hollow State Park||04 Aug 1988|
|Athens Co.||Athens||10 Aug 1957|
|Franklin Co.||Worthington||16 Aug 2005||female, fairly fresh, photo|
|Lake Co.||Painesville||25 Aug 1993|
|Franklin Co.||Columbus||13 Sept 2001|
|Franklin Co.||Columbus||05 Oct 1901||OSU Insect Collection|
Over 40 Black Witch records from Canada, dating back to about 1900, have been passed on to me. (Not all of which are yet posted on the record compilation page.) Early and late Canadian records are July 14th (Spruce Brook, NF) and October 18th (Scarborough, ON) respectively. Don Lafontaine provided label data of 14 specimens in the The Canadian National Collection (CNC) of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes, a collection of some 16 million specimens! Alan Wormington, Editor Point Pelee Natural History News, reported nine occurrences at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario, between 1993 and 2001. Jeffrey P. Crolla of the Toronto Entomologist's Association provided numerous other records.
The distribution of records across Canada's southern provinces suggest a high degree of observer bias, where most records are reported from provinces with the highest human populations, which are not necessarily where the highest number of stray moths occur. In particular, the high number of reports from Ontario is strongly influenced by records from Point Pelee NP, the southernmost point in Canada, often referred to as Canada's "banana belt!" In addition to its southern latitude (equal to California's northernmost latitude!), it's also frequented by tens of thousands of birders and other naturalists annually.
|This is the female Black Witch Moth
collected August 18, 2006 on a rocky headland jutting out into
Hudson Bay near Churchill,
Manitoba, Canada by the Barcode
of Life Initiative.
This specimen represents the northernmost Black Witch Moth ever collected, displacing an individual found near Juneau Alaska in 1957!
Canadian records by month
Canadian records by Province - west to east
A female Black Witch in "excellent condition" was found on October 4, 1957 at Auke Bay, 12 miles north of Juneau, Alaska (Spangler, 1957).
Spangler, P.J. 1957. A record of the black witch, Erebus odora (Noctuidae), in Alaska. The Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 11(6): 205.
Black Witches are resident in south Florida (Covell 1985), however that population is apparently non-migratory. Kimball (1965) compiled the most thorough list of Florida Lepidoptera of the time, reporting scattered records from some 72 private and 34 institutional collections.
Kimball listed the collection holding the specimen and the month it was collected specimen. According to Kimball, regular collecting in Florida began in 1875. The American Museum of Natural History launched four entomological expeditions to Florida between 1911 and 1914. The published results of those expeditions formed one of the main literature sources that Kimball drew upon. He also searched the relevant entomological journals for Lepidoptera records from Florida.
Kimball geographically organized the records he reported by "Distributional Areas" based on (with slight modifications) the regions delineated by West & Arnold (1952). The following graphic is nearly identical to Kimball's Distributional Areas with the exception that Regions V-VIII are lumped in with Region IV. Interestingly, Kimball listed no records for the Keys, but one A. odorata record from the Dry Tortugas in July by W.M. Davidson!
Here I list the cities, months and quotes concerning each A. odorata record Kimball found. They are segmented by each of the four main regions he identified.
Escambia Co.: Warrington (far west panhandle):
"five late summer"
Alachua Co.: Gainesville (south-central Reg. II):
June, July, Sept, Nov. "appears to be rare in this area"
Region IV (includes V-VIII)
Various locations: Every month except March
That the Black Witch is rare north of south Florida is exemplified by the fact that all of Kimball's records north of Region IV fall into only three counties. Given the date and the location of the panhandle records, they are most likely the product of a late season southward migration rather than having originating in south Florida. Indeed, the majority of the records from Regions II and III could be the product of late season south bound individuals.
That this insect population is non-migratory in south Florida is actually to be expected. Winged animals born on an island (or a peninsula) and having the genetic impulse to travel are less likely to contribute their genes to the next generation than are the individuals that don't have the impulse to travel, thus an island bound-population is likely to become sedentary or even flightless over time as the non-traveling individuals contribute more of their genes to the succeeding generations than do the emigrating individuals.
In contrast to Kimball's absence of Florida Key records, Ron Gatrelle reported the following observation:
|The only [Black Witch moths] I've seen alive were on Key
Largo. It was mid afternoon (back in the early 70s when one
could collect just about anywhere there) and the mosquito plane
flew over the hammocks on the west side of the road to spraying
their load. As soon as the mist hit the trees dozens if not scores
of Black Witches could be seen (indeed like bats) scurrying out of
the hammocks zig zagging a bit and heading to the east side. A
sight not soon forgotten. Those who have been on north key largo
know there is the one road that runs straight down the center and
thus one could see way down the road as the plane passed and moths
got out of Dodge. Or.... dodged.
Georgia Museum of Natural History, the largest insect collection in Georgia with "over 1.1 million pinned specimens" (pers. comm. C. L. Smith, 2009), has only four Ascalapha odorata specimens from GA. The first was collected in 1953, the next two in the fall of 1971. Five additional records were provided by Jame Adams, Georgia Lepidoptera in 2009.
Given these numbers, there's really no significant migration of Black Witches north out of Florida.
|Columbia Co.||Evans||19 June 2012|
|Clarke Co.||Athens||15 July 1953|
|Whitfield Co.||Carbondale||19 July 1995|
|Fulton Co.||Atlanta||26 July 2009|
|Clarke Co.||02 Aug 2005|
|Clarke Co.||Athens||12 Aug 2002|
|Fulton Co.||Atlanta||23 Aug 1996|
|Fulton Co.||Atlanta||19 Sept 1971|
|Whitfield Co.||Rocky Face||23 Sept. 1997|
|Fulton Co.||Atlanta||04 Oct 1971|
|Whitfield Co.||Carbondale||17 Oct 2003|
|Whitfield Co.||Carbondale||19 Oct 2011|
||26 Oct 2015
Other Southeastern States
Similar to the low number of BWM records known from north Florida and Georgia, I have only found a paucity of BWM records the following states:
Amazingly, southeastern Canada has a comparable number of BWM records as have been recorded in the southeastern U.S. (not including KY).
Charles Covell brought to my attention that the KY Butterfly Net Database reports 9 records for Kentucky as of July 2009. LepSoc Seson Summary added a record from Oct.
From: curtis and jacqueline campaigne [campaigne at starband.ne]
Sent: Wed 10/13/2004 12:22 PM
Subject: Bahamas - Records of the Black Witch Moth
Hi, I live in Cat Island, Bahamas, and we have an awful lot of your moths here. They are locally known as Money Moths or Moneybats, and the legend is that if they land on you, you come into money. They are very common, and although they are more frequent in March and September, they are more or less an all year resident here. After hurricane Frances and Jeanne, the winds were primarily from the northeast, and that kept the moneybats away from the homes on the west coast of the island. (There are no homes on the east coast). Yesterday, however, when the wind changed and we got southerly winds again, they came back with a vengeance. Hundreds of moneybats invaded the houses , and the Mockingbirds had a field day. The Mockingbirds seem to love the moths, and pick them off the decks and porches in the morning.
I do have some pictures, so if you want some more, please tell me.
Yours, Jacqueline Campaigne Orange Creek Cat Island, Bahamas
From: thompson john [houndfish at hotmail.com]
Sent: Mon 9/20/2004 4:13 PM
Subject: Bahamas - Black Witches
Hello, I am a natural history enthusiast from Nassau, Bahamas. I ran into your website while trying to find information on a most interesting black witch (here they are called "moneymoths" or "moneybats") behaviour that I witnessed last night. I collect native Bahamian trees and I have a tree locally known as "anaconda", or to Florida Keys residents, "Geiger tree". This tree (Latin name Cordia sesbestena) suffers from heavy attacks by the larvae of a tortoise beetle, and as far as I know the tree is the one and only host plant. I do not spray them, as the adult beetles are quite beautiful in metallic green and gold. The beetle larvae are much less attractive, and are capable of much damage. They eat the soft leaf tissue and exude a sticky secretion which may build up around them as a thick film. I would guess the solution to be sweet like aphid honeydew, but have no burning desire to taste it.
Anyway, last night I was outside with a flashlight and I noticed 7 moneybats on the smallish tree, sucking the larval beetles' secretions. They were not even fazed at close inspection under bright light. Have you ever heard of this? Moneybats are very abundant here and are considered good luck, with a windfall of wealth not far away if they settle in your house.
Please report new BWM county records to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include date, location (distance to nearest town) & county of record.
Also please include sex, condition of moth & prevailing weather conditions.
Please send medium resolution photo if possible. Thanks, Mike
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