Well, a Black Witch Moth I discovered on the inside of my dark brown shower curtain (thus camouflaged) when I showered late morning after my itchy haircut. In my Butterfly & Moth Gallery (and below) you will see 3 others photographed in other parts of my house earlier. Note that their dark colors make all 4 of them look different in different light. I had to use the flash on my cell phone camera for above shot. Just another one of the colorful surprises almost every day in Costa Rica. 🙂
Other Common Names
In Spanish the name is Mariposa de la Muerte, “Butterfly of Death”
The Mayan people call the moth Mah-Ha-Na, “May I borrow your house?” An allusion to the moths frequently entering people’s houses. 🙂 Like mine!
The Black Witch has a fascinating cultural as well as natural history. Known in Mexico by the Indians since Aztec times as mariposa de la muerte (butterfly of death). When there is sickness in a house and this moth enters, the sick person dies. (Hoffmann 1918) A variation on this theme heard in the lower Rio Grande Valley (Southmost Texas) is that death only occurs if the moth flies in and visits all four corners of one’s house.
Merlin & Vasquez (2002) point out that the number four is important in Mesoamerica because of its relationship with the four cardinal directions (east, west, north and south). The moth was known among the Mexicans as Mic Papalotl, the butterfly of death. In Mesoamerica, from the pre hispanic era until the present time nocturnal butterflies have been associated with death and the number four.
In some parts of Mexico, people joke that if one flies over someone’s head, the person will lose his hair. Still another myth: seeing one means that someone has put a curse on you!
In Hawaii, Black Witch mythology, though associated with death, has a happier note in that if a loved one has just died, the moth is an embodiment of the person’s soul returning to say goodbye.
From website: http://texasento.net/witch.htm