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Death's-head Hawk Moth

Death's-head Hawk Moth
: Ram Thakur (ramthakur) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4308 W: 231 N: 13980] (56319)
: Animals
: 2008-09-27
: Insects
: Nikon D200, Sigma EX 105mm F2.8 DG Macro, 58mm UV
Exposure: f/8, 1/125
: 2008-09-27 0:44
: 4499
: 30
[Note Guidelines]
I shot this moth today morning. It was sitting on the leaf of potted Money Plant we have on our terrace.

I must thank Ivan from Sweden and Krzysztof from Poland for helping me in reaching the correct ID of this fairly large Moth. It is a Death's-head Hawk Moth found is Asia and a bit different from its European counterpart Acherontia atropos

Here is the note borrowed from Wiki:

Acherontia styx is a Sphingid moth found in Asia, one of the three species of Death's-head Hawk Moth, also known as the Bee Robber. It is very fond of honey and bee keepers have reported to have found dead moths in their hives as a result of bee stings. They can mimic the scent of bees so that they can enter a hive unharmed to get honey. Their tongue, which is stout and very strong, enables them to pierce the wax cells of the beehive and suck the honey out. They are also known to be a pest of yuzu (Citrus junos) in South Korea, using their tongue to pierce and damage the fruit.
This species is similar to the European A. atropos but differs in having two medial bands on the underside of the forewing, instead of one, and usually no dark bands across the ventral surface of the abdomen. The skull-like marking is darker and there is a faint blue tornal dot enclosed by a black submarginal band on the hindwing upperside. The forewing discal spot (stigma) is orange; in A. atropos it is usually white.
There are two described subspecies, A. s. styx, and A. s. medusa Moore, but they intergrade widely, and authorities presently consider that A. s. medusa is just a wet zone/season form, and not taxonomically distinct.


Eggs are laid primarily on Bignoniaceae, Fabaceae, Oleaceae, Pedaliaceae, Solanaceae and Verbenaceae. In India, the larvae sometimes occur in such numbers as to cause serious damage to crops, such as Sesamum indicum. Mature larvae can attain 120mm, and come in green, yellow, or brown color forms. Larvae closely resemble those of A. atropos except that the dark blue dorsal speckling is more pronounced on the anterior half of each abdominal segment, and the tail horn is less curved and lacks a reflexed tip. Pupation occurs in an underground chamber, excavated less than 10cm below the surface of the soil.


The variant referred to as A. styx medusa occurs throughout eastern continental Asia, from northeastern China (to where it is a migrant) and Japan, south through eastern China and Vietnam to Peninsular Malaysia and peninsular Thailand. Also found throughout the islands of the Malay Archipelago. A. s. styx occurs from north-central and western China westward across northern Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Iran to Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Popular Culture

An Acherontia styx pupa found in the soft palate of a murder victim is a vital clue in the thriller novel The Silence of the Lambs; in the movie version, however, while the script still refers to styx, the species depicted is Acherontia atropos.

Thanks for looking.

cataclysta, siggi, eqshannon, nglen, crs, jusninasirun, uleko has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Ram
Very interesting photo of this big species from genus Acherontia (probably Acherontia styx) Good sharpness nice compo with main object on the left. Looks great like a field guide photo

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5042 W: 260 N: 15594] (50624)
  • [2008-09-27 0:54]

Hello Ram,
A nice capture of a hawk moth closely related to the Death's Head Hawk-moth (Acherontia atropos)taken from a dorsal fine POV with excellent sharpness. It may be a sub-species as the skull marking on the thorax is not that obvious.
Thanks for sharing this imrpressive image,
Best wishes,

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  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-09-27 1:00]

Hello Ram,
excellent macro shot of this beautiful Moth with superb details, natural colours, DOF & POV. Great shot. TFS.
Regards Siggi

Hello Ram,

Splendid composition. Excellent POV, DOF and sharpness. In this picture what I like the most is the light and the colours.

Hi Ram,
What i can say from the pic is this is some kind of Hawk moth probably "Death's head Hawk Moth" see this http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=836004 . you have got a wonderful picture with good exposure and colors. The composition is good too.

Although there must be hundreds of varieties...I do believe I have seen this one or it's nearest cousin whilst up in my wilderness..Your image is certainly good enough for me to pick it out of a mug book:-) Very nice ram...keep on clicking.

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  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-09-27 12:08]

Hi Ram. A very good close up of the Moth. I like your over head view showing us all the wing and body markings. with good detai land natural colours.all in a nice frame. well done TFS.

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  • crs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 922] (3551)
  • [2008-09-27 22:49]

Hello Ram,

Your photo is very interesting showing well this big moth. Colors of the body as well as the skull from the thorax can be well seen. This is becouse you have made good use of the nice light.

Thank you for sharing,

Hello Ram
ok gzel ok farklı ve detaylar ok net.

Hello Ram Sir, Thank you for sharing this. Good info and nice view. Vignesh

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  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-09-28 10:48]

A beauty Ram! Well composed shot and excellent technique. Great light and exposure, thanks!


Hello Ram. Very well captured shot from the back of this moth. Sharp details in well exposed lighting. I like the framing with the moth diagonally on the frame. The money plant makes a good background. TFS and warmest regards. Jusni

Hello Ram,

A nice capture of this moth with very good colors & detail. It looks like you & I were almost on the same "Moth Route" that date. My last upload on TN was a moth.

TFS & Regards,


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  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2008-09-28 22:13]

Superb Macro,and I love the details,nice texture in the wings.

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  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3423 W: 173 N: 3309] (10940)
  • [2008-09-29 11:59]

Hello Ram,
How interesting to see this peculiar Moth that I've only seen captured once in England. I remember it 'squeeking' when touched! ;-) This one looks a bit worn but you managed to get it in a fine pose showing the markings quite clearly. Very well composed too.
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

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  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-09-29 15:12]

This is one huuuge moth! You're really lucky to find one and then to get such a great shot of it.
Superb composition.
Lovely colours.
Sharp as ever!

Well done,

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