What has six legs, two antennae, four furry appendages sprouting from its backside – and a big chunk of the Internet freaked out?
The world’s most viral and terrifying moth.
A man in Indonesia posted a picture and video of the insect on Facebook in October last year, drawing more than 36,000 comments, many from people expressing alarm and asking astute questions, such as: “What wizardry is this?”
Gary Hevel, a researcher with the department of entomology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said the insect is known as Creatonotos gangis.
Hevel said in an email to The Washington Post that the moth in the video appears to be using its scent glands – those strange little tentacles – to attract a mate.
He said the glands, which are in the moth’s abdomen, are typically deflated.
The moths are found across Southeast Asia and parts of Australia, according to an online database, which states:
The adult moth of this species has brown forewings, each with a broken dark streak. The hindwings are white. The abdomen is red or sometimes yellow.
The males have four reversible coremata at the tip of the abdomen which emit pheromones, each when inflated is longer than the abdomen. The moths have a wingspan of about 4 cms.
Some who commented on the Facebook post also helped to hash out what kind of moth it might be and explained how the moth was utilising its pheromones.
“Beautiful!” one person wrote.
Still, many people expressed a more common sentiment: “im now also scared of moths.”
A version of this article was first published in October 2017.
2017 © The Washington Post
This article was originally published by The Washington Post.