Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Dave Harper

If you lose or find an animal in Placitas area, call the Animal Hotline at 867-6135. The Hotline is a nonprofit service run by Dave and January Harper to help reunite lost and found pets. Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a free service courtesy of the Signpost—we can sometimes even include a photo. Call Dave and January at 867-6135 or 263-2266 and leave a detailed message, or email the Animal Hotline at: (but call, too).


DOG: Medium-sized, four-year-old, tan, female German Shepherd/Toy Fox Terrier Mix. “Tikita” looks like a giant Chihuahua. She is micro-chipped and has a collar with name and address. Lost June 19 from 23 Placitas Trails Road in Placitas. (This post ran July under #4059, but the owner called this month and sent me her flyer. Previous ad was from their pet sitter.) #4060


Animal News


Lalo’s pet prints:

Lalo loves to receive your pet and animal photos to print in the Signpost.
Email them to “Lalo” at:
Or mail prints to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889 Placitas, NM 87043

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake who? Prairie Rattler come a-knockin’ on my back door.

And now there are two! —Photos by Todd Rennecker, Placitas

Glowworm—actually a beetle larva

In the dark!
Photos credit: —Paul Sealey

We have glowworms!

—Paul Sealey

Most people who live around here probably don’t realize we have a strange insect living among us. A few nights ago while giving my dog fresh water before turning in, I saw a strange, bright, green light near my patio. I thought, what in the world is this light? I walked over and shined my key chain light on it. What I saw was a strange-looking segmented worm with a strong, pinpoint light emanating from its tail. The only thing I thought it could be was a bizarre creature called a glowworm. I looked it up on the Internet only to realize that what I saw was indeed a glowworm! Two nights later, in a different place by my patio, there was another bright, green, pinpoint light. This time, I ran into the house and grabbed my point and shoot so that I could get a quick shot (green, fuzzy blob on photo). Then, I ran back in to get my digital SLR to get a shot of the actual worm. The glowworm I photographed was only about one centimeter long.

Glowworms are actually not worms at all, they are beetles. It is the larval stage that glows as a warning signal to predators that they are slightly toxic if eaten, and the adult female glows to attract a mate.

Paul Sealey lives in Placitas.

I discovered this Black Witch Moth flying in my garage a few days ago and thought it was a bat. I chased him out and forgot about it until this morning. He is sleeping under the overhang on my back porch. He has a wingspan of about four to five inches. —D. White, Placitas

Black Witch Moth—butterfly of death

—Terry Sovil

Tropical in origin, the Black Witch Moth is the largest moth seen north of Mexico. Its formal name is Ascalapha odorata and its wingspan can exceed seven inches. Not actually black, it is more dark brown with zigzag lines. A number “9” or paisley shape on the forewing is a prime indicator. The females have a white stripe midway along the wing and are slighter lighter in color than the males.

The Black Witch moth generally flies only at night. During the day you may see one under eaves, a carport, or porch awning. They are attracted to soft overripe fruit. The beginning of the rainy season in Mexico triggers a northern migration where they are often seen in the American Southwest. They breed year round and retreat southward in the fall.

They are frequently mistaken for bats as they are large and fly like bats. Because of the similarity, there are many superstitions that have evolved around this moth. They have tympanic organs or ears that detect the echolocation signals generated by bats. This hearing helps them avoid real bats when both are flying at night.

The Black Witch moth does not bite, sting, or carry diseases. It has only a straw-like proboscis or tongue to drink flower nectar through. It is perfectly harmless but can cause a reflex jump and perhaps a scream if you happen to flush one out from a daytime hiding spot.

In Mexico, they are called the mariposa de la muerte (butterfly of death) and were known to the Aztecs. It is said that when a person is sick and this moth enters the house, the sick person dies. A variation from southern Texas says that death only occurs if the moth flies in and visits all four corners of the house. In parts of Mexico, if one flies over someone’s head, the person will lose their hair. In Hawaii, if a loved one has just died, the moth is an embodiment of the person’s soul returning to say goodbye.

Reprinted from

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