Black Witch Moth

Ascalapha odorata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Life Cycle Photographs & Rearing Note

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Return to Texas Entomology - Compiled by Mike Quinn

Photos not to scale

Black Witch Moth - Ova

(eggs, larvae were reared to third instar on Acacia)

Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio
( Steven C. Passoa)


Black Witch Moth - Larva

Bentsen-RGV State Park
Mission, Hidalgo County, Texas
October 2006 (Joshua S. Rose)


Black Witch Moth - Larva

on Blackbrush Acacia - Acacia rigidula

Falcon Heights, Starr County, Texas
October 10, 2006 (Berry Nall)


Black Witch Moth - Larva

 Mission, Hidalgo County, Texas
October 4, 2007 (Jan Dauphin)


Black Witch Moth - Larva

The full grown larva reached a size of around 9cm 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
March 30, 2008 (Nick Percival)


Black Witch Moth - Pupa

The pupa is about 4cm long

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
April 1, 2008 (Nick Percival)


Black Witch Moth - Male and Female

(note the female's white median stripe)

El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, 
Gomez Farias, Tamaulipas, Mexico
June 29, 1993 (M Quinn)

Rearing Note

I am an amateur entomologist in my spare time, and I have been living in Rio for six months now. We have noticed huge dark crepuscular moths or butterflies several times in garden and once in the house, and eventually caught one at light in February. It appeared to be female so I put it in a net cage to see if it would produce any ova, and it laid around 80 over two nights. The eggs were small for such a large moth, about 1mm in diameter and grey in colour. They were loosely attached to the netting and easily collected in a plastic box. They were laid 22 and 23 Feb and started to hatch after only five days on 27 Feb. Unfortunately this was mid-week, and I struggled to find anything that they would eat in the time I had available after work. Your list of foodplants is a great deal more comprehensive than my knowledge of Brazilian trees! I tried a number of things that looked leguminous, to no avail. For the record they refused Cassia and Mango. I eventually managed to purchase a small acacia (not sure of the species) on 1 March, but only managed to establish one larva.

When newly hatched the larvae were threadlike loopers about 5mm long, and amazingly fast - they were very difficult to control. I kept the survivor outside (temperatures of 25-35 degrees C) sleeved on the foodplant. The full grown larva reached a size of around 9cm. It had regained the use of its middle sets of claspers and no longer moved like a looper, and was rather tapered at each end. It spent the day hiding at the base of the sleeve and emerged to feed at night, and pupated in a rough cocoon in the folds at the base of the sleeve on 1 April after 33 days.

The pupa is smooth and dark brown, about 4cm long; I would describe it as of rather typical noctuid appearance.

Nick Percival 
Rio de Janeiro
April 06, 2008

26 Apr 2008 Mike Quinn / / Texas Entomology / Texas Leps