Was looking on the web to see If death’s head hawkmoth caterpillars are poisonous ( due to some of their foodplants and the bright coloration of certain forms of DHHM) and stumbled across one of the daftest things i’ve heard regarding a moth which was the first result ( on Bing)
The Deadly Death’s-Head Hawkmoth | Adopt And Shop
( slightly shortened but quoted from the source),
Moths are often seen as harmless creatures that are attracted to light. However, there is a type of moth that is attracted to human touch. This moth is called the Death’s-head Hawkmoth and it is considered to be fatal to humans… The Death’s-head Hawkmoth is attracted to the smell of human skin and it will often land on people. The moth will then insert its long proboscis into the person’s skin and suck their blood. This can cause a number of health problems for the person including anemia, infections, and even death. The Death’s-head Hawkmoth is considered to be a serious pest and it is important to avoid contact with this moth.
I presume they were mixing some half truths with the " vampire moths" of the Calyptra genus but either way it’s troubling that misinformation like this is being spread around on the web as truth and promoting negative associations about a group of animals that are already unpopular with many people. Further reading of the actual article leads to a lot of random tangents and some obviously AI written sections like
" Pigs are a member of the insect family Lepidoptera, which includes moths and butterflies" and
" The furry puss caterpillar feeds on a variety of plants but is most commonly found on the southern flannel moth, a silkworm that spins silk. The puss caterpillar, which is furry, is a major predator of the southern flannel moth, and it is a sign of good silk production."
and here’s another post from the same site
The Death’s-head Hawkmoth: A Skull-Shaped Moth That Can Be A Pest | Adopt And Shop
about this species which somehow manages to be even worse with more contradictions, untruths and much more. would appreciate any input on this and any weird mothological myths that you know of.
Would also like to clarify something as It has come to my attention that this post seems a bit ranty but this post isn’t meant to attack the website itself or whoever made it as there are dozens of sites ( if not more) with similar info, this was just the first one to pop up but rather to highlight some of the issues with gleaning info on non scientific online sources and the importance of cross referencing info as well as those previously mentioned on the paragraph before.
There are two types of species, those with little to no information on the web, and those with readily available misinformation.
Did you have a question or something specific you wanted to discuss about this? We try to have the forum not be a place for complaints but for constructive discussion.
Apologies if this post seemed a bit like a ranting tangent ( I can edit it if you like to make it seem less condescending than what was intended), I just felt a tad bit heated about it. My main enquiry was mostly about any other moth related myths or misinfo, If Acherontia are actually poisonous and how exactly posts like those cited compile and produce their information since I have my doubts as to If it was entirely written by a Human.
Happy Halloween…almost sounds like an April fool’s joke
Happy Halloween, if only it was. Indeed it does remind me of those youtube videos where someone tells you something that sounds very scientific and thorough only to reveal that they were just fabricating it to see how many people believed it.
Reminds me of a quote from a TV presenter here in UK who said (roughly): “95% of the internet is porn, 4% is wrong, 1% is quite useful.”
Not entirely inaccurate!
Deaths Head larvae are edible. Cook them first though, otherwise they taste horrible, way too strong.
As a lifelong entomologist, I can assure you that old wives’ tales about insects well predate the internet. Some even made it into natural history books.
The other thing that never changes is that lies are promulgated for monetary profit, and exacerbated for shock factor to drive even more money. The OPs example is just one, but even last year National Geographic had an article about insect populations plummeting (true) but used a shock-factor comparison photo that any entomologist with a brain would realize was complete rubbish.
The greatest problem with the internet, so far as entomology is concerned, is the inexpensive entry into website development, driving a plethora of butterfly-related websites targeting youths and teachers but are invariably loaded with bad “information.” This garbage then get repeated. I see no viable solution to this.
Appreciate your input, It’s a shame that stuff like this is spread around but I suppose it’s been happening for thousands of years through tales and rumors.
It looks like you’ve stumbled across an AI spam website. Site owners use AI to generate ‘content’ and post it on their ad-filled websites hoping that someone clicks through on the advertisements. Unfortunately, this sort of stuff is only going to increase. LLMs make generating spam content very easy.
The best way to combat these sites is to ignore them and not link to them.
You seem to be spot on, I was wondering why a lot of their blog posts were about groupers ( as in anything with grouper/groupers not just the fish) and why many seemed suspiciously like the sort of thing I would glean if I asked Chatgpt to write a summary on moths . I guess the only positive things I can say are that their actual retail stores seem reputable and for a good cause as well as learning that this venomous saturniid moth is a thing Lonomia obliqua · iNaturalist
Isn’t SEO the only thing that matters anymore? I mean, that’s the one skill listed on every job posting for a content writer…
AI generated content is introducing a whole new frontier of self-propagated internet misinformation. I thought the era of “Venezuelan poodle moths” was bad enough, nowadays it doesn’t even take the active participation of uninformed people to spread nonsense far and wide enough to totally obscure any useful information. Already I’ve found it far, far more difficult to dig up ID guides or species keys on the internet – the results are invariably split between totally nonsensical computer-generated spam sites, or paywalled journals if I make the trek to Google Scholar. It’s really a shame and likely to become a big problem for any naturalist community.
This is spot on, and the main reason that I’m slowly accumulating a small library of respected books to which I can refer for reliable IDs.