How marvelously appropriate that just before All Hallow's Eve a Black Witch was found in Cape May…
Thanks to Jim McCormac's blog (thank you, Jim!), I knew exactly what was going on when the Cape May Brit suddenly exclaimed "Black Witch at the lighthouse!!!" and raced out the door. I was the only person running out the door right behind him. And I had both cameras with me. ("Never leave home without them." Seriously, it's become a mantra.) Oh, happy, happy day!
Also known as Mariposa de la Muerte * (it just gets better and better…), this tropical moth is common in Central and South America and "regularly present" (according to my Peterson's Eastern Moths) in southern Florida and southern Texas. It happens to be an acknowledged far-north-reaching roamer as well, hence her presence (the creamy pink bands indicate this is a female) in Cape May Point State Park on October 28, 2011. (See the Butterflies and Moths of NA page for a public-reported sightings map--note that this isn't [yet] a complete or comprehensive records data set.)
This is a big moth--about the size of a Cecropia, one of our native giant silkworm moths.
Oh, my… ::sigh::
* Alas, all the glorious yet inexplicably and horribly maligned wildlife destined to become harbingers of death! Legend says that if Mariposa de la Muerte (yes, of course I spent the rest of the day practicing my accent on this delicious name) visits when one is sick or lands in all four corners of the house, death results.