"The Acherontia atropos of the Sphinges"
by cm
Death's-head Hawk Moth
Creative Commons AttributionDeath's-head Hawk Moth - Credit: Orin Zebest

Acherontia atropos is one of three species of Death's-head Hawk moth.  It is a particularly large moth, with a wingspan of up to five inches.

The species name is heavily connected with death.  In Greek mythology, Atropos was one of the three goddesses of Fate and Acheron was the river of pain in the Underworld.  The moth is completely harmless, but the skull pattern on the thorax has caused it to be associated with evil and misfortune.

"Sphinges" is the plural of sphinx, and refers to the hawk moth family, Sphingidae.