Macabre Moth Motif
Moths about? Not a good sign.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-09-11 20:07:41 sponsor: Earnest (last reply: 2012-09-30 10:03:48)

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Formerly Moth Of Dark Portent and Everything Is Murky With Moths.

Caption: This girl wishes she had an Incurable Cough of Death instead.

Butterflies are seen as symbols of death and rebirth as well as transformation. But if you take away their beauty and make them nocturnal, you end up discovering a Macabre Moth Motif.

Because moths are very much like equal and opposite mirror images of butterflies -- alike in shape, flight and metamorphosis, unlike in that they're dark, weighed down with negative stigma and nocturnal -- they can be used as generic symbolism for Bad StuffTM whenever the plot needs it. This includes but isn't limited to: poison, the supernatural, Demonic Possession, death and apotheosis[[note]](a dark transformation)[[/note]].


Examples:

Comic Books
  • The Batman villain "Killer Moth" wasn't initially dark, wearing a garish costume with striped purple and green spandex, orange cape and a moth-like mask. Later on though, he was redesigned to look more menacing Drury Walker / Charaxes.

Film
  • The Moth Diaries, about a new girl in a boarding school who may or may not be a vampire, features heavy moth symbolism.
  • Giant kaiju monster Mothra subverts this trope, embodying all the good aspects of the Butterfly of Death and Rebirth. Albeit, she's also far more brightly colored than your typical moth and has a fair number of evil / anti heroic counterparts.
  • The page pic comes from the movie The Possession, where the moths presage the oncoming Demonic Possession and transformation awaiting Emily.
  • The Mothman Prophecies: In this film adaptation, Mothman is named for a Ukrainian myth of the moth as a psychopomp or dark angel.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs Starling finds the pupa of a black witch moth inside the mouth of one of "Buffalo Bill"'s victims. The film changes it to a death's-head sphinx, and features it on the poster.

Literature
  • In Arcia Chronicles, large gray moths are usually a sign of dark magic at work (especially of the Cialian tradition). Only magically-gifted people can see these magical moths, however.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Sphinx: The narrator is horrified when when he sees a humongous moth-monster with the image of a human skull on it. Then he realizes that it was just a normal moth, it was just much closer than he realized.
  • In The Tatami Galaxy, one of the characters is phobic about moths because of this, and will have panic attacks if one lands on her.
  • In The Hobbit, when the party is traveling through Mirkwood they go without campfires at night rather than attract the swarms of huge black moths that come out at night. Though not actually harmful, they're very unpleasant.
  • Inkdeath, a book which as the title suggests, is replete with symbols and imagery of death, features several dark moths on its cover.

Music videos

Video Games
  • The first Silent Hill has two enemies, Twinfeeler and Floatstinger, a larvae and moth respectively (or rather, the game has one enemy with two forms). It's notable above being a random enemy because Alessa, the dark force moving the town against Harry, had a moth collection growing up which she uses as a basis for Floatstinger. Beyond that, Alessa herself is transformed two or three times through the game. First by being burned to near death, then when she's reunited into a godlike being, and finally when the god sealed inside her is released into a demonic form.
  • Pokémon Venomoth. Also Dustox. Although Wurmple's other possible final form, Beautifly, is totally not the good butterfly you imagine. Only Dustox is a moth though. Mothim, eh...kinda. It does steal honey from Combee.
  • In Devil May Cry 2 Dante and Lucia fight an enormous moth as one of the bosses. The moth by itself isn't dangerous, but the eggs it lays hatch into larva that try to eat them.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the boss Odolwa will at one point summon a cloud of moths to harass Link. They can be wiped out with a bomb, as they will be drawn to its fuse.
  • Morph Moth from Megaman X 2.
  • In Dark Fall: Lost Souls, one of the hotel rooms is filled with pupae suspended from the ceiling, with nasty grubs inside that hiss and writhe creepily. Old paintings of moths are propped against the walls.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • The Death's-head sphinx has coloring that looks like a human skill on its back.
  • The Black witch moth, an omen of death and bad luck.
  • Point: Truth in Television. Moths are like demon spawn, especially if you have a closet full of clothes.
    • Counter-point: Real Life moths come in just as many colors as butterflies, and many species are active during the day, but nobody wants science in the way of their symbolism.
  • Famously, the peppered moth became murky because of the massive levels of pollution brought on by the Industrial Revolution in England.
  • Some moth caterpillars do eat clothes, but actually only wool or silk ones (they don't eat cotton). Clothes moths - the adult moths that is - don't eat clothes at all.
  • Most moths are not predatory. Though there are a few caterpillars of moths which will eat other caterpillars, these are the exception rather than the rule. Adult moths generally either do not eat or feed on nectar (they can't chew like the caterpillars, since they have that long, tubular proboscis.) There is one exception - the Malayan bloodsucking moth - which actually does feed on blood. It still has a tubular, siphoning mouth though.
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