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Moth Menace

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Threatening (and often giant) moths and butterflies.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Jubileus57 on Jan 14th 2018 at 12:54:29 PM
Last Edited By:
Jubileus57 on Jan 19th 2018 at 7:12:32 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mothmenace.jpg
These are eyes. But not its own...

Moths, despite being linked to the Pretty Butterflies, are often seen as a bad omen. But sometimes, they are more than simply a sinister symbol announcing some kind of threat: they are the threat.

Just like any other Big Creepy-Crawlies, behemoths can be really scary: from up close, they look like any other giant insect and can induce nightmares to any entomophobe. Although they aren't necessarily giant, as some of the below examples prove.

They usually are attracted to light. If so, you'd better turn them off...

Butterflies themselves can appear as a menace, but this is less common since they are usually associated with beauty and grace rather than with the night and the occult.

Comapre Macabre Moth Motif, in which these creatures are only used as sinister symbols instead of dealing the pain themselves. Nothing to do with Wallet Moths, nor with Butterfly of Doom or Schrödinger's Butterfly. Quite often the subtrope to Big Creepy-Crawlies.


Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Mothgaba, in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, is a gigantic moth that attacks Cappy Town with a strange pollen which causes strong hay fever to everybody in town. It turns out it came from the Southern Islands and was enraged after the Island Sisters, which sang its favourite song to it while it was a caterpillar, were abducted, and their rescue calmed it down. They then all returned to the Southern Islands together.

Fanfic

  • The Pokédex fanfiction fleshed out how dangerous Dustox poison is. According to it, a sizable chunk of Hoenn's population was flat-out decimated when streetlights were invented, because Dustox would gather en masse and saturate the air with poisonous dust scattered from their flapping winds. The resulting uproar of scared citizens, thinking it was a result of the wrath of the gods instead of mere poisoning, had all the streetlights smashed, and to this day, Hoenn remains very paucily lit because of the trauma this deadly fragment of history inflicted to Hoenn.

Films - Live-Action

  • Subverted with the Kaiju Mothra, from the Godzilla franchise. While she sometimes brings quite the destruction in her waker, she is almost always painted as a benevolent entity which protects her land, Japan or even the Earth.

Folklore & Mythology

Literature

  • In Phantoms, one of the forms taken by I Enemy is a giant moth (1-2 feet long with a 3-4 foot wingspan). When first encountered, it beats on a window of a building the protagonists are in. Later on, it attacks one of them and literally eats his face off, leaving behind a fleshless skull.
  • The slake-moths of Perdido Street Station are horrifically deadly Animalistic Abominations: they feed on the minds of sapient beings via Orifice Invasion, leaving them Empty Shells; their hypnotic wings sedate anyone who looks at them; and they have Nigh-Invulnerability due to their bodies extending across multiple planes of existence. The Mayor of New Crobuzon tries to make a Deal with the Devil when five of them hatch in his city. Hell is too afraid of them to accept.

Tabletop Games

  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the Gloomwing is a large moth-like creature from the Plane of Shadow that hunts for creatures to use as incubators for its larvae.
  • In Gamma World, mutated giant moths can be deadly opponents to Player Characters.
    • The blaash is a 1 meter long carnivorous moth that gives off high intensity radiation in a five meter radius. The radiation can kill or mutate characters.
    • Module GW6 Alpha Factor introduces the blaasut, a giant moth that looks like the blaash. Anyone near a heat source (such as a campfire) at night may be attacked by a blaasut's battering wings.

Video Game

  • In The Breach, one of the more annoying enemies are human heads that fly with giant butterfly wings at just the right angle to avoid being shot before hitting you. The Big Bad also uses a lot of butterfly imagery, resembling Cthulhu with butterfly wings.
  • In Dark Souls, the Moonlight Butterfly is a gigantic and mysterious butterfly with magical abilities encountered as a boss in Darkroot Garden and a Degraded Boss in Crystal Caves. Not much is known about this mysterious creature.
  • In Devil May Cry 2 Dante and Lucia encounter an enormous moth-like demon called Noctpteran. It doesn't attack directly, but the eggs it lays hatch into larvae that keep trying to eat them.
  • Despite their name, the Wasp line of enemies that appears in Epic Battle Fantasy has only the first one looking like a wasp. The others look more and more like severely mutated butterflies as the game goes on
  • The Legend of Zelda series:
    • The Mothulas are humongous, very colourful moth enemies that appear in several games. The first one appears as the boss of Skull Woods in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. They also appeared as the boss of the Poison Moth's lair in Oracle of Seasons, the miniboss of the Forbidden Woods in The Wind Waker and the miniboss of the Forest Temple in Spirit Tracks.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, moths can be found throughout the Woodfall Temple. They swarm around stationary torches and are harmless... at first. Once you light a Deku Stick to turn it into a torch they'll follow the fire and hurt you. The only way to escape them is to put out your torch, although if you move fast enough you can outrun them to a certain extent and minimize the damage.
  • Mega Man:
    • Morph Moth from Mega Man X2 is a humanoid robot moth who occupies a robot scrapyard and uses broken machine parts to turn himself from a larva form into his full moth form. He can also manipulate those machine junks to attack.
    • Mega Man Zero 3: Robotic moths appear in Cubit Foxtar's level as enemies. They usually appear in darkened rooms, in which you can choose to turn on the light (by powering up the generator), causing them to move towards the light instead of swarming you.
  • The vibrant Rock Moth and their relatives in Miitopia are giant moths approximatively the size of a Mii which bear stolen Mii facial features. A Rock Moth is the first enemy the player character actually sees in the game.
  • The Vehemoth Phosbat in Pikmin 3 is a bioluminescent half-moth half-bat creature which dwells in dark caverns. When not exposed to light, it is completely intangible, and proves to be a very serious threat. It even ate the Koppai team leader Charlie at the start of the game.
  • Pokémon:
    • Dustox and Venomoth both are poisonous moth Pokemon which are known for scattering around highly poisonous dust when flying.
    • Volcarona , on the other hand, is a monstrous flaming moth which scatters burning flames while flapping its wings.
    • The butterfly-like Pokemon Beautifly is cute, vibrant... and sucks its preys bodily fluids with its long rostrum. It is also highly aggressive.
  • The Giant Moth in Resident Evil 2, as well as the smaller Moths from Resident Evil – Code: Veronica are both poisonous enemy moths that were the result of failed experiments.
  • In Silent Hill, Floatstinger is a giant moth boss with, as its name implies, a big stinger on its abdomen, which it uses to skewer the player. It can also spew poison. It's design is reminiscent of the Bombyx mori ("Mori" meaning "death" in Latin).
  • When sailing near the Ragged Crow Lighthouse in Sunless Sea, turn off your lights. The area is haunted by the monstrous Tyrant-Moths which are attracted to the lighthouse's bright lights. They are bigger than the player's ship, and can deal a staggering 30 damages to the player's hull when attacking. Thankfully, they aren't found near the lightships, the light buoys or the perpetually lit Varchas.

Web Animation

  • According to this ASDF Movie, at least one poor man had to deplore the stealing of his wife by a tiny butterfly...

Western Animation

  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • In Night Light, Spongebob and Patrick fill Spongebob's house with an unholy amount of nightlights and other various light sources (like a searchlight and even a lighthouse). As a result, the entire house emits a very strong light that attracts the Moth, the most dangerous archnemesis from Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy. Don't underestimate his less-than-behemothic size: he is powerful enough to lift Spongebob's entire house plus the lighthouse all at once.
    • The episode Wormy is an interesting example, since it is not the titular butterfly that is dangerous or unusual per se, but the reaction everyone has when facing it. After taking care of a caterpillar for a day, Spongebob and Patrick discover in the morning that Wormy disappeared and instead, they see a butterfly (keep in mind that the two are underwater creatures, so they are completely clueless when it comes to insect metamorphosis). They are convinced the butterfly is a friend-devouring monster (and the Gross-Up Close-Up of the creature is no helping matter) and go on warning the town about it, which sends the Bikini Bottomites in a frenzied panic which concludes with the town completely in ruins. Meanwhile, the only thing the adult Wormy does is fluttering aimlessly, like a normal butterfly would.
  • Teen Titans has villain Killer Moth who has many mutant moths as his henchbeasts. Silkie is the larval form of one such, but its mutation was forestalled by Starfire's love.


Feedback: 25 replies

Jan 14th 2018 at 2:08:35 PM

The Silly Symphonies short "The Moth and the Flame", is about a female moth seduced by an anthropomorphic flame. The cartoon begins with moths gathered around a street light next to the dress shop where the rest of the story takes place.

Jan 14th 2018 at 2:57:52 PM

If this is just Moths Are Attracted By Light it is PSOC

Jan 14th 2018 at 3:03:42 PM

Moths can be found throughout the Woodfall Temple in The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask. They swarm around stationary torches and are harmless. However, once you light a Deku Stick to turn it into a torch they'll follow the fire and hurt you. The only way to escape them is to put out your torch, although if you move fast enough you can outrun them to a certain extent and minimize the damage.

Jan 14th 2018 at 3:41:08 PM

What's the narrative purpose of this trope?

Jan 14th 2018 at 3:57:29 PM

^ About the same any Big Creepy Crawlies subtrope has. (Since the reworks. Maybe I should have deleted the old Light-Circling Moth draft adnd started a new one with this trope? I never faced the scenario before)

Jan 14th 2018 at 5:52:17 PM

Music:

Jan 14th 2018 at 7:35:01 PM

  • Morph Moth from Mega Man X 2 is a humanoid robot moth who occupies a robot scrapyard and uses broken machine parts to turn himself from a larva form into his full moth form. He can also manipulate those machine junks to attack.
  • Mega Man Zero 3: Robotic moths appear in Cubit Foxtar's level as enemies. They usually appear in darkened rooms, in which you can choose to turn on the light (by powering up the generator), causing them to move towards the light instead of swarming you.

Jan 15th 2018 at 1:48:22 AM

  • Also from Spongebob: in Wormy, Spongebob and Patrick take care of a caterpillar, but when they see the empty chrysalis, come to the conclusion that the butterfly ate Wormy (and later Squidward and Mr. Krabs). As they suffer a Gross Up Close Up whenever it gets near (using a horsefly's head and shrill buzzing sound), they run away screaming, leading to Bikini Bottom being set on fire until Sandy gets back.
  • Teen Titans has an episode where the villain is a giant moth-man. He's not the focus of the episode, however: his daughter blackmails Robin into going out with her to a dance. Disaster follows as both her boyfriend (a Giant Spider / human hybrid) and Starfire suffer intense jealousy.
  • Heroic example: In The Tick, Arthur's superhero theme is a giant moth, although people keep mistaking the antennae for rabbit ears.
  • The Breach: One of the more annoying enemies are human heads that fly with giant butterfly wings at just the right angle to avoid being shot before hitting you. The Big Bad also uses a lot of butterfly imagery, resembling Cthulhu with butterfly wings.
  • The Mothman is a humanoid with giant moth wings (most likely coming from someone surprised by an owl).

Jan 15th 2018 at 1:46:46 AM

Tabletop Games

  • Gamma World. Mutated giant moths can be deadly opponents to Player Characters.
    • The blaash is a 1 meter long carnivorous moth that gives off high intensity radiation in a five meter radius. The radiation can kill or mutate characters.
    • Module GW6 Alpha Factor introduces the blaasut, a giant moth that looks like the blaash. Anyone near a heat source (such as a campfire) at night may be attacked by a blaasut's battering wings.

Jan 15th 2018 at 4:40:04 AM

I'm torn between naming this "Moth Menace" or "Butterfly Baddie".. Which one do you all prefer? Perhaps one of them might become the Alternate Title?

Jan 15th 2018 at 5:55:24 AM

^ Moth Menace please. Butterfly Baddie tends to be played differently and for different kind of effect.

Jan 15th 2018 at 9:51:27 AM

  • In Devil May Cry 2 Dante and Lucia encounter an enormous moth-like demon called Noctpteran. It doesn't attack directly, but the eggs it lays hatch into larvae that keep trying to eat them.

  • The Moonlight Butterfly is a monster in Dark Souls, encountered a a boss in Darkroot Garden and a Degraded Boss in Crystal Caves.

Jan 15th 2018 at 12:57:08 PM

Monstrous Moth, maybe? Moth Menace makes me think of a flock of Clothes Moth showing up and destroying someone's wardrobe, resulting in Clothing Damage.

Jan 15th 2018 at 1:01:51 PM

The "moth guy from Teen Titans" is Killer Moth, a Batman villain who have appeared in several Batman-related media (The Batman, Batman The Brave And The Bold, The Lego Batman Movie). He was the main villain in the pilot for a failed spinoff of the Adam West show that would have starred Batgirl.

Jan 15th 2018 at 3:25:32 PM

^^ Perhaps I'd rather go with an adjective emphasizing the evil intentions of these moths (Malicious or Malevolent come to mind) rather than their physical aspect, since not all of them appear quite monstrous (the Majora's Mask example and Wormy come to mind). Else I would have gone for Behe-Moth

Jan 15th 2018 at 1:34:02 PM

The Wasp line of enemies that appear in Epic Battle Fantasy attack with several Standard Status Effects. Despite the name, only the first one looks like a wasp, they look more and more like severely mutated butterflies as the game goes on.

Jan 16th 2018 at 4:35:39 AM

Literature

  • Dean Koontz's novel Phantoms. One of the forms taken by the Enemy is a giant moth (1-2 feet long with a 3-4 foot wingspan). When first encountered, it beats on a window of a building the protagonists are in. Later on, it attacks one of them and literally eats his face off, leaving behind a fleshless skull.

Jan 16th 2018 at 7:57:10 PM

  • PJ Masks: Luna Girl, who commands an army of luna moths, is one of the main villains on the show.

Jan 16th 2018 at 8:37:20 PM

Jan 16th 2018 at 8:57:15 PM

  • Teen Titans has villain Killer Moth who has many mutant moths as his henchbeasts. Silkie is the larval form of one such, but its mutation was forestalled by Starfire's love.

  • PJ Masks: One of the Masks' villains is the bratty Luna Girl, who has a swarm of moths who serve her (more or less - they'll quit if she's too mean to them only to come back later).

Jan 17th 2018 at 8:53:31 AM

Fixed a bit of markup in the Literature section. Also:

Jan 18th 2018 at 9:02:50 AM

After "Although they aren't necessarily giant," maybe add something along the lines of "Moth Menaces can serve as horrid symbols of decay and death, based on the decay of clothing moths cause."

  • The Bible:
    • The Book Of Proverbs finds moths so horrid to compare them to visualize how "sorrow gnaws at the human heart."
    • The prophet in the Book Of Isaiah uses the image of a moth eating a garment as a representation of death.
    • In The Gospels, Jesus twice uses moths to represent the inevitable corruption and finitude of treasures in the mortal world, in contrast to the eternal treasures of Heaven.

Jan 18th 2018 at 9:40:29 AM

^ "Moth Menaces can serve as horrid symbols of decay and death, based on the decay of clothing moths cause."

That's Macabre Moth Motif

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