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Moth Menace

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"Come judgement day, this fluttery fiend will fly into action. Will it land in a dream world, or a nightmare? It has mastered its new abilities, now all will witness its true power!"
Morpho Knight EX's flavor text, Kirby Star Allies

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. Expect deadly butterflies to be a way for the work to say that light is not always good, bright isn't either and what's cute and pretty may be treacherous.

Compare Macabre Moth Motif, in which these creatures are only used as sinister symbols instead of dealing the pain themselves, and The Mothman for another potentially dangerous mothlike entity. Nothing to do with Wallet Moths, nor with Butterfly of Doom or Schrödinger's Butterfly. If they're far larger than insects have any right to be, then they're also an example of Big Creepy-Crawlies. See also Butterfly of Death and Rebirth.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Rosine's true form is a monstrous luna moth, with toxic hallucinogen dust, the ability to cocoon others and turn them into moth hybrids, and a proboscis as effective as a lance or rapier. Plus supersonic speeds.
  • Chargeman Ken!: One episode has the Juralians sending a swarm of human cell-eating butterflies to attack and kill humans.
  • Gatenmaru from Inuyasha is a moth youkai. Cruel and cold-hearted, he is the leader of a gang of bandits. When they attack a village, the bandits kill most of the residents while Gatenmaru wraps Inuyasha in a poison cocoon intended to kill him. Eventually, Inuyasha's demonic side awakens, and he kills Gatenmaru and almost all of his bandits.
    • In the sequel series Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon there is another moth youkai named Gaga Gozen. He is on his way to a village where hanyou children live because he wants to eat them. There he meets the half-demon Setsuna. In a reflection of Gatenmaru's fate, he is also blown to pieces after provoking Setsuna into awakening her demonic side.
  • Jōjū Senjin!! Mushibugyō: Kikyou is a sadistic, haughty mothwoman and one of the three bosses of the Anthill. She can use her head feelers to track her victims through pheromones and unleash poisoned spikes from her wings to attack. Ironically, she firmly believes to be a Butterfly of Doom instead and constantly gushes at butterflies, becoming much more vulgar and brimming with rage when Isshin points out that she's a moth, no if and no buts. Leads to her demise, because she believes that, like a butterfly, she can flutter unpredictably in the air to dodge any attack directed at her while in truth, like a moth, her flight pattern is much more direct and straightforward than she believes, leading to her death.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: Mothgaba is a gigantic moth that attacks Cappy Town with a strange pollen that 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.
  • The☆Ultraman: Goglan, a rather blatant Captain Ersatz of Mothra, who lands on planet Earth as a caterpillar and gradually matures into a gigantic moth-themed kaiju to battle Ultraman Joneus.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Great Moth was "Insector" Haga's (aka Weevil Underwood's) original ace monster, boasting monstrous attack strength and poison scales that sapped the strength of enemy monsters. Its real-life counterpart, on the other hand, is considered one of the biggest cases of Awesome, but Impractical in the game due to A: its ludicrously slow summoning conditions, and B: the fact that it's only a 3500 beatstick if you do summon it.
    • As of 2017, Konami has released several cards to make the Great Moth slightly more playable, but it's still unlikely to find much of a following outside diehard fans of the anime.

    Comic Books 
  • The Simpsons: Bart manages to make a fake newspaper informing all about the dangers of a giant moth in Springfield, which thanks to this being Springfield, everyone believes, resulting in the entire town shutting themselves indoors. Then Professor Frink builds a giant robot to kill the non-existent giant moth...
  • THAT, a comic by John Allison set in the Bobbinsverse, is a slightly surreal comedy Shout-Out to classic '50s Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever movies such as the giant ant classic Them! — but with giant moths. They're genuinely dangerous, although as it turns out, they suffer from a Weaksauce Weakness (mothballs) and Everybody Lives, just about.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Garfield strip has Garfield rudely smacking a butterfly away, only to have it calling out to his father, which is a gigantic butterfly with spots shaped like tough anchor tattoos on its wings, probably getting ready to beat the orange cat up.

    Fan Works 
  • The Pokédex fanfiction fleshes 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 wings. 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 sparsely lit because of the trauma this deadly fragment of history inflicted on it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted with the Kaiju Mothra, from the Godzilla franchise. While she sometimes brings quite the destruction in her wake, she is almost always painted as a benevolent entity that protects her land, Japan, or even the Earth.
    • Played somewhat straight with her dark counterpart, Battra from Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth. While he also protects the Earth, he protects only the Earth, and any of its inhabitants who threaten the planet will also face his wrath, which happened to the Cosmos civilization when they created a weather control system. In the present day, he awakened to stop an asteroid headed for Earth but was enraged by modern humanity's pollution and began attacking civilization as punishment.
  • In The Blood Beast Terror, Peter Cushing fights a bloodthirsty were-moth.

  • The Urban Legend of The Mothman is a terrifying Winged Humanoid. None of the original witnesses ever described it as mothlike, but the name has stuck, and this has coloured most subsequent depictions.
  • In Brazilian Folklore, dark moths are believed to be a sign of bad omen, and occasionally, are seen as witches in disguise or wandering souls. Moreover, the species Ascalapha odorata is called "witch" in many countries.

  • Bas-Lag Cycle: 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.
  • In 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.
  • Goosebumps: In "Go Eat Worms", Todd, having gotten over his worm obsession in the last chapter, has moved on to torturing butterflies instead. At the end, a giant butterfly with an equally giant metal pin shows up to even the score.
  • The Philip K. Dick story "Meddler" involves these, which are also (given the story's premise) a literal example of Butterfly of Doom.

    Live-Action TV 

    Professional Wrestling 

    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 Games 
  • Bayonetta's patron demon Madama Butterfly is strongly associated with butterflies. However, given her loyalty to Bayonetta it's possible she's not actually evil. Same case with Jeanne, whose patron demon Madama Styx is even more moth-like in appearance.
  • 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 Bug Fables, you have Zommoth, a hulking zombified abomination of a moth fought at the end of Upper Snakemouth as the most horrific example in the game. Less horrific but still noteworthy are Cenn, a butterfly criminal who is one half of a phony exploration team; Kali, a seamstress who hypnotizes Kabbu with pheromones and tries to have him kill his teammates when Vi accidentally breaks her vase; and Mothiva, a vain and rude celebrity moth who butts heads with Team Snakemouth in her pursuit of glory and fame.
  • CrossCode has the third dungeon, the Faj'ro Temple, wherein reside the notorious laser moths. (Including the dungeon's boss.) Lea is just as sanguine about their presence as she is any other mob. Emelie, on the other hand, not so much.
  • Cultist Simulator has The Moth, who was the first God-from-Blood.
  • 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.
  • Disgaea 2 introduced the Winged Warrior, aka Mothman as a new monster-class unit. These gigantic moths are used as mail carriers, but tend to be spooked easily and will move extremely fast upon such. They tend to be somewhere between Goddamn Bats and Demonic Spiders due to their skills being able to inflict Status Effects at high rates, alongside having high movement (and as flying units, they can't be cornered or corralled).
  • Dragon Project has Vemerphose, a majestic crystalline butterfly that can change its elements, initially starting with water. The behemoth's tablet is used to craft the Water Heat Spear.
  • Dungeon Crawl has ghost moths, which are invisible, drain the player's magic, and have a nasty bite. Slightly less threatening is a moth of wrath, which causes nearby enemies to go berserk.
  • 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.
  • Gungage, being a game filled with giant insects, have hostile giant moths serving as Airborne Mooks who had a tendency of flocking around the players with their stingers. There's also a Queen Moth boss, roughly the size of an airplane who attack the heroes while they're on top of a pyramid.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • There is a moth tribe, and while the one surviving member is friendly enough, there's also Markoth, the ghost of a moth warrior who's aggressive towards the player when they first meet, and more importantly the Radiance, the Greater-Scope Villain and source of The Corruption that destroyed Hallownest, is the former leader of the tribe, seeking revenge against the Pale King and his followers for usurping her throne.
    • Nightmare King Grimm may also be one. While his actual species is unclear, his ambiguous connection to the Radiance, above, leads many to speculate that he is also a moth. Since he is also an Expy of Castlevania's Dracula, he might be a Calyptra moth (see the Real Life category, below).
  • Giant butterflies are one of the many enemies Buck must face in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
  • Kirby: For seven years, a seemingly innocuous butterfly appeared in almost every game intro and the conclusion of every game, watching over or landing on Kirby. In Kirby Star Allies, it turns out that that it was a Butterfly of Death and Rebirth, which at the same time develops a habit of invoking a Bait-and-Switch Boss, fluttering down upon a final battle and absorbing the power of a soul that should have died long ago to transform into the mighty Morpho Knight.
  • 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. However, they can be destroyed with a bomb, as they are attracted to its fuse. Odolwa can also summon a swarm of these moths during his boss battle.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom reimagines Gibdos (which have usually been mummies/zombies) as moth creatures whose larval stage happens to resemble a walking human corpse. They start out looking like dessicated humans, grow moth wings, and the Queen Gibdo barely resembles anything human anymore, having many extra limbs, enormous wings, and feathery antennae.
  • 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.
    • In 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.
  • Pikmin 3: The Vehemoth Phosbat, the second boss of the game, is a bioluminescent half-moth half-bat creature that dwells in dark caverns. When not exposed to bright 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.
  • In the Pinocchio Licensed Game, the yellow moths in Level 2 can be a bother to Jiminy Cricket and can try to knock him off the lamp post he's on.
  • Pokémon: Anything that can learn Quiver Dance applies, but for specifics...
    • Venomoth from Gen I and Dustox from Gen III are both poisonous moth Pokémon known for scattering around highly poisonous dust when flying.
      • Dustox's counterpart Beautifly is cute, vibrant...and sucks its prey's bodily fluids with its long rostrum. It is also highly aggressive.
    • Masquerain from Gen III (whose Japanese name is Amemoth) Intimidates the opponent when entering battle.
    • Mothim from Gen IV is an offensively inclined Bug/Flying-type known for stealing honey from Combee.
    • Volcarona from Gen V is a monstrous flaming moth that scatters fire while flapping its wings.
      • Additionally, its Paradox variants from Gen IX, Slither Wing (a giant flightless bagworm with wing-like appendages on its back, which is thought to be from ancient times) and Iron Moth (a futuristic inorganic entity in the shape of a moth that many believe to be an alien probe) have been reported to attack people out of the blue.
    • Frosmoth from Gen VIII is a monstrous icy moth that can blast its enemies with blizzards.
  • 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. Its design is reminiscent of the Bombyx mori ("Mori" meaning "death" in Latin).
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Mothman is a recurring demon, born from legends of a cryptid that appeared in West Virginia in the 1960s or 1980s. It's supposedly a vampire and an alien. Its abilities are mainly disruption and support, though in the Persona games, it also uses lightning spells.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic CD, the Pata-Bata enemy is a robotic butterfly who inhabits Palmtree Panic Zone. He flies around a designated area in a zigzag pattern and can harm an unprotected playable character by flying into them.
    • In Sonic & Knuckles, the Butterdroid enemy is a robotic butterfly who inhabits Mushroom Hill Zone. They slowly fly around in groups of two or three but will attempt to spiral into the playable characters when they get close. While they are easy to defeat in most cases, they sometimes appear near sticky vines that the player can get caught on, making them more of a threat.
  • 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.
  • In Terraria, moths appear as rare Underground Jungle enemies. Despite their big health, damage, and defenses, they are valued for their butterfly dust, which can be used to craft Butterfly Wings. Also, during the Solar Eclipse, a giant monstrous moth, known as Mothron (a Shout-Out to Mothra), appears as a Boss in Mook Clothing, and it possesses a powerful Dash Attack and can create eggs that hatch into smaller Mothrons to aid it.

    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 
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: Ben's Big Chill transformation turns him into a cryokinetic giant moth.
  • The Big Bad of Miraculous Ladybug is named Butterfly (Le Papillon) in his native French, Hawk Moth in the English dub. Like the heroes, he wields a Transformation Trinket that has a Fairy Companion, his themed after the butterfly, but unlike them uses his power for selfish gain. His power is to enchant butterflies with magical energy, that seek out people throughout Paris undergoing emotional turmoil and transform them into supervillains under his control.
  • In Steven Universe, butterflies are usually a very negative motif. Butterflies attacked Steven on "Serious Steven", they represent anxieties in the Fusion realm and the villainous Aquamarine has butterfly wings.
  • PJ Masks: Luna Girl has a large swarm of moths as her mooks, and uses them to carry out her dirty work.
  • Space Ghost episode "The Sorcerer". The title villain sends a giant Quadro Moth to capture Space Ghost. It has Eye Beams that neutralize Space Ghost's Invisibility power and it can shoot a long tentacle out of its head to wrap up an opponent.
  • 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 flutter aimlessly, like a normal butterfly would.
  • Teen Titans (2003) 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.
    • Speaking of Killer Moth, Batman: The Brave and the Bold has him using similarly ferocious mutant moths, each at least as big as a human child. While it's not in continuity with Teen Titans, Moth's hideout does feature Silkie as a background Shout-Out.

    Real Life 
  • Real-life moths are, of course, generally too small and weak to represent a serious danger to humans, although some species, and especially the caterpillars of many species, have irritant hairs or spines which serve to deter predators from eating them, and contact with bare skin can be highly irritating — especially if they trigger an allergic reaction. Others just accumulate toxins from plants that they eat in their bodies, ensuring that they taste disgusting to predators (which can help protect the species, if not the individual). One of the worst instances is the tropical species Hylesia metabus, which grows irritant hairs that remain highly effective even after the moth has shed them onto furniture, clothes, water, etc.; mass infestations in French Guiana sometimes cause epidemic-level outbreaks of “papillonite,” a nasty sort of dermatitis. Do not let such irritant moth hairs get in your eyes.
  • While they are not deadly, there exists a genus of parasitic moths named Calyptra that feed on the blood of vertebrates, occasionally including humans, with their specialized proboscis - similarly to mosquitoes.
  • Caterpillars can be problems for humans due to their voracious appetites. They can cause damage to plants and become major horticultural or agricultural pests.
  • The species Lonomia obliqua found in South America is considered the most venomous known caterpillar in the world. The venom in its spines can easily prove fatal to humans.
  • The larvae of Perisceptis carnivora, a species of moth found in Panama, are some of the only carnivorous caterpillars in the world. They are known to use the remains of their prey as a form of camouflage, like a bagworm made of dead bodies.


Video Example(s):



A man has his sweetheart taken by a small butterfly.

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