Could someone help me identify two different insects from my memory?

First one: I was very young when this happened, about 4 or 5, and this happened in the early-mid 2000s. I have a distinct memory of a freakishly large moth flying into my home in Edison, NJ, and my parents’ attempts to evict it. I only saw it from a distance, being too scared to come closer, but I remember it being a dark coffee-brown color and had a triangular shape (not unlike some tiger moths).

The second one is much more recent and it happened around 2015. This was at my grandmother’s house in India, which doesn’t really have as well-known an insect fauna as the US, so I’m fine with just a general ID. This one was a bright green insect (looking something like this planthopper) about the size of an average butterfly, with large wings held to its sides. It entered the house at night when the balcony doors were briefly opened. I approached it assuming it to be a leaf, and it suddenly started to fly around the place before we let it escape. I’m not sure if this one was a butterfly, a moth, a weird katydid, or a giant planthopper.

Hi @ash2016!! About your first insect memory could be a black witch moth (genus Ascalapha)!! Here in Ecuador (and other countries in Latin America) Ascalapha odorata is considered a harbinger of death… about your second insect…ufff so difficult… it could be anything!! even a mantid … surely someone can give you more clues!!

Best wishes to you


I’ve actually considered the NJ moth being the black witch in the past, but I’d say that the NJ moth was longer vertically (like this moth), rather than being longer horizontally as the black witch is. Thanks anyways!

For the second one the type of flight can help you, mantis or katydid flight is not that of a moth, think about it and which sounds it produced while flying.

if not a black witch, if i hear “freakishly large moth”, my first thought is some sort of Saturniid moth. a lot of these are really big, and they should be relatively common in your area. i think something like the Pine Devil (Citheronia sepulcralis, might fit what you’re describing. Saturniid moths look a little bit different than tiger/owlet moths, but if the Pine Devil is within the realm of possibility, i suggest looking through Saturniids in your area:

if not a Saturniid, then maybe the question to ask is how large exactly is freakishly large? there are a lot of Noctuoidea, which would be where i would look next. just for example, some of the underwing moths (Catocalias) might fit your description, except that i wouldn’t descibe them as freakishly large:

my first thought when i saw your planthopper example is that you probably saw some sort of kaydid. look through the first couple of pages and see if these are in the realm of possibility:

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For the first one, one of the larger sphinx moths might fit as well – they have elongated shapes when they land.


Large dark brown moth with triangular shape makes me think Sphingidae, Sphinx or Hawkmoths, perhaps the common Manduca sexta or Manduca quinquemaculatus.


yup… now that i think harder about it, one of the common hornworms probably does make the most sense.

i think @ash2016 should create an observation for it, even if it is casual. or if there is drawing from a 4- or 5-year-old ash2016, we might be able to get it to research grade. maybe attach the observation to a “monsters of my childhood” or “insects that haunt my memories” project.

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