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Death's-head Hawk-moth
Acherontia atropos (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sphingidae: Sphinginae
1973 / 69.005
Photo © Tim Blackburn,  05/10/2022 - Blakeney point

View all 23 photos >

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Similar Species: None
Forewing: 52-60mm.
Flight: Aug-Oct. (pos May-Nov)
Foodplant:   Potato, Deadly Nightshade.
Red List:
GB Status: Immigrant
Verification Grade:  Adult: 3
Rare immigrant.
Adult moths have an unmistakable skull-like marking on thorax. Unable to overwinter, seldom seen except in light traps or in beehives feeding on honey.

When disturbed, the adult makes a unique squeeking sound by passing air over a reed like structure in its proboscis.

Adults arriving in the summer can sometimes produce larvae that pupates. Larvae still occasionally found in Norfolk.

Larvae and pupae were once commonly found in potato fields throughout Norfolk, especially in the year 1950, when 326 were recorded from 64 different locations (see map). Sadly, the use of pesticides on commercial crops has resulted in a major decline.

Folklore regards this moth as an omen of death. In Greek mythology one of the three daughters of Necessity, known as the Moirai (Fates), named Atropos cuts the thread of life!

Retained Specimen / Photograph will be Required.

Recorded in 44 (59%) of 74 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1834.
Last Recorded in 2023.

Latest 10 Records
27/09/2023+27TG00Barnham Broom
10/09/2023127TG10Bowthorpe / Earlham
22/10/2022128TF92Great Ryburgh
16/10/2022127TG32Neatishead / Barton Broad
05/10/2022128TF94Blakeney Point / Stiffkey
26/05/2022127TG04Cley next the Sea
08/10/2021127TG31North Burlingham
Further info: Acherontia atropos
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