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  • Jane Harris

Death's-Head Hawkmoth


Death's-Head Hawk Moth or commonly known as a Deathmoth or for the nerd in us all...the genus Acherontia! You're welcome for that and what's to come...

1. The Death's-Head Hawkmoth gets its name from the skull-like mark on its thorax.

2.    Given its unusual markings, it's probably not surprising that people once considered it a bad omen. In 1840, entomologist Moses Harris wrote that "It is regarded not as the creation of a benevolent being, but the device of evil spirits—spirits enemies to man—conceived and fabricated in the dark, and the very shining of its eyes is thought to represent the fiery element whence it is supposed to have proceeded. Flying into their apartments in the evening at times it extinguishes the light; foretelling war, pestilence, hunger, death to man and beast."

3.    The moths are big: The smallest, A. styx, has a wingspan between 3 and 5.11 inches; A. lachesis, the largest, has a wingspan of 4 to 5.19 inches; and A. atropos has a wingspan of 3.5 to 5.11 inches.

4.    The moth has popped up in literature: In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the titular vampire sends the moths to his thrall, Renfeld. Thomas Hardy wrote about them in The Return of the Native, and John Keats mentioned them in his poem “Ode to Melancholy.” And in Thomas Harris’s book Silence of the Lambs, the killer places the pupae of the Acherontia styx in his victims throats

5.     Don’t want to call it a death’s-head? In Dutch, they're called Doodshoofdvlinder; in French, le sphinx à tête de mort; in German, Totenkopfschwärmer; in Spanish, cabeza de muerto; and in Swedish, Dödskallesvärmare. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

6.    Why did I choose it...Well, the last time I was in Amsterdam I visited the VanGogh museum and brought home a print of his version of a Death'-Head Hawkmoth and it is still hanging in our home.  I have always been fascinated with the stories behind it and thought my spin could be the LIFE inside of the moth's story...after all we can't have death without life!

So here we are good and well informed!  I will be running this print in a Cranfield oil based gold ink on toned paper.  The edition will be limited to 25!  But as always shipping is free in the U.S. 

Look for it November 1st in my shop!

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