It is hard for me to ever see this flying creature as just a poor, innocent moth; the Erebid moth (Ascalapha odorata) which is also known as Black Witch, Sorrow moth, and Mourning moth, is called Duppy Bat in Jamaica. The Jamaican term “duppy” means ghost, spirit, or demon; and the duppy bat indicates the presence of such spirit.
In Jamaica, some persons believe that when a duppy bat flies into your yard or enters your home, you are being visited by a demon, or by the spirit of someone who has recently died. In some cultures, the Erebid moth represents the soul of a person returning to bid you goodbye.
This moth also represents the spirit of a person who has died long ago, but is still not at rest. When that dead person visits your home, you can tell . . . for he/she appeared in the form of a duppy bat. I understand too, that those witches which have the ability to transform themselves into other creatures, usually chose to appear in the form of the Erebid moth. The duppy bat also represents the presence of such witches who enter your home to cast a spell, or to stand guard over a curse/spell that they have already cast on you.
So last night . . . around 8pm, when a duppy bat flew inside and rested on the wall in our house; we immediately brushed it down and swept it outside. It flew away, battered, into the darkness. Should we have prayed too? we forgot, but I do so right now. The Erebid moth (duppy bat) is the largest moth in the continental United States, with a wing span of up to 16 inches. Due to its large size, it is often mistaken for a bat.
This moth flies mostly at night and rests in shaded areas during the day. It is usually found on the walls, or under the eaves of entrance ways, porches, and garages. Interestingly, this moth may stay for as long as three days in one location. The Erebid moth does not bite, sting, or carry diseases; and the moth larvae pose no threat to agricultural crops. The adult moth feeds on the nectar of flowers, the juices of fallen fruit, or the sap of legumes.
I read that in some cultures, the Erebid moth is also called Money moth; should one alight on you, you will become rich, and should one land above the door of your home, you will win the lottery.
Oh yeah! Not in Jamaica.