Butterflies come in a stunning array of colors and patterns. While most people are familiar with common orange, yellow, and white butterflies, some species sport more unusual colors like neon blue, metallic green, and even pink and black. The specific butterfly in question with pink and black wings likely refers to a few different species found around the world. To determine the exact species, we’ll need to explore some of the main pink and black butterflies and their key identification features.
Main Pink and Black Butterfly Species
There are three main butterflies with pink and black wings to consider:
Pink-spotted Hawk Moth
The pink-spotted hawk moth (Agrius cingulata) is found in tropical and subtropical Asia, Australia, and parts of Africa. As a moth, it’s active at night and has a stout, fuzzy body. Its wingspan reaches 3-4 inches. The forewings are a mottled pink, brown, and beige pattern with two prominent black spots. The hindwings are bright pink with wide black borders.
Pink Underwing Moth
The pink underwing moth (Phyllodes imperialis) is native to Australia. It has light brown forewings and black-bordered pink hindwings. When at rest, the hindwings are concealed, revealing only the mottled brown forewings with a wingspan around 1.5 inches. In flight, the pink hindwings become visible.
Variegated Pink-and-green Hawkmoth
The Variegated Pink-and-green Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli) lives in Africa, southern Europe, and Asia. As the name suggests, its 2-3 inch wingspan hindwings are a mix of bright pink and green patches with black borders. Its forewings are light brown or gray with a faint pink tint and zigzag dark lines.
Identifying Features of Pink and Black Butterflies
To determine which specific species of pink and black butterfly or moth you’ve encountered, look closely at these identifying features:
Body Shape and Size
– Slender, tube-shaped body – Indicates a moth like the pink-spotted hawk moth
– Thicker, faster-flying body – Suggests a butterfly like the variegated pink-and-green hawkmoth
– Small size around 1-2 inches – Pink underwing moth
– Larger size around 3-4 inches – Pink-spotted hawk moth
– Mottled pink, brown, beige forewings – Pink-spotted hawk moth
– Solid light brown forewings – Pink underwing moth
– Light gray or brown forewings with faint pink tint – Variegated pink-and-green hawkmoth
– Bright pink hindwings with black border – Shared by all three species
– Australia – Pink underwing moth
– Asia, Australia, Africa – Pink-spotted hawk moth
– Africa, southern Europe, Asia – Variegated pink-and-green hawkmoth
Behaviors of Pink and Black Butterflies
These species share some common behaviors to look for when observing them in nature:
– Night activity – The moths are nocturnal, so look for them at night resting on trees and flowers.
– Hovering flight – They can hover and dart quickly through the air when feeding on flower nectar.
– Camouflage at rest – When perched with wings folded, the moths blend in with tree bark and branches.
– Startled flashing of hindwings – If disturbed while resting, they may briefly flash the bright pink hindwings before taking off.
Role of Pink and Black Coloration
The unusual pink and black coloring seen in these species may serve different purposes:
– Camouflage – The mottled brown, beige, and pink forewings allow the moths to blend into tree bark and vegetation during the day when resting.
– Warning signal – The bright pink and contrasting black patterns may warn potential predators that the moths have a toxic or bad taste.
– Mate attraction – The flashy hindwings likely play a role in attracting mates in courtship. The vibrant colors grab attention.
While all three species have distinctive pink and black wings, the pink-spotted hawk moth can be identified by its large size, mottled pink forewings, and two distinct black spots. It lives in tropical habitats of Asia, Australia, and Africa. This nocturnal moth relies on its cryptic coloring to rest unseen during the day. Its striking hindwings are used for mate signaling and to startle predators with sudden flashes of pink and black. So next time you encounter a butterfly or moth with a shocking splash of pink and black, look closely to determine if its the elusive pink-spotted hawk moth.