The noctuid moth Ascalapha odorata bears the common name Black Witch. It is considered a harbinger of death in Mexican and Caribbean folklore. In Spanish it is known as "Mariposa de la muerte". Ascalapha odorata is a large bat-shaped, dark-colored nocturnal moth. Males can attain a wingspan of 16 cm. The dorsal surfaces of their wings are mottled brown with hints of iridescent purple and pink, and, in females, crossed by a white bar.
In many cultures, one of these moths flying into the house is considered bad luck: e.g., in Mexico, when there is sickness in a house and this moth enters, it is believed the sick person will die, though a variation on this theme (in the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas) is that death only occurs if the moth flies in and visits all four corners of one's house (in Mesoamerica, from the prehispanic era until the present time, moths 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. in South Texas, if a Black Witch lands above your door and stays there for a while you will supposedly win the lottery.
Pupae of the Black Witch moth were placed in the mouths of victims by serial killer 'Buffalo Bill' in the novel The Silence of the Lambs. In the movie adaptation the moth was changed to a Death's-head Hawkmoth.