What Is the Mothman? Where Did the Legend Arise?

(Last Updated On: November 6, 2019)

What Is the Mothman?

Alright, we’re not entirely sure where this guy came from. Well, we are going to be looking into that today, but we digress. Anyway, the Mothman is a large, man-like creature, with wings said to resemble those of a moth. It’s also said this beast has glowing red eyes. We’re not going to tell you the Mothman is a real thing that’s going to fly into your home and terrorize your family, but we are going to ask the question; who is the Mothaman? Or rather, what is the Mothman? 

More Cryptid Shenanigans: What’s the Difference between a Yeti, Abominable Snowman, Sasquatch, and Bigfoot?

Where and When Are the Mothman?

Most Mothman sightings are pretty localized, and they’re also consolidated around a single time period. Specifically, we’re looking from November 12, 1966 to December 15, 1967. There were a handful of sightings since 1967, but most of these were far less concentrated. Like in between 1966 and 1967 there was an explosion of sightings–which is what gave the urban legend its notoriety. The vast majority of these sightings (we’ll get to it) occurred in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Honestly, if you’re a supernatural nut or a cryptid hunter, you probably don’t know anything about Point Pleasant besides the Mothman. 

What Is the Mothman?

We touched a bit on what the Mothman looks like, but we can get a little more in-depth here. The first sightings occurred around November 12, as we mentioned before, with a local newspaper reporting on the Mothman on November 16. Specifically, the Mothman was cited as a “Man-Sized Bird Creature… Something.” Afterwards stories about the Mothman circulated nationally across the US. At this point, the Mothman hadn’t really gained the notoriety to become the Mothman, but we still thought it was funny that a newspaper called a potential cryptid just a “something.”

If you were to head to Point Pleasant yourself, you would be able to see a big steel statue of the Mothman. It’s a pretty funny sight to see a giant man with moth wings shining in chrome in the middle of your town square. If you like Mad Max, maybe it’s on its way to Valhalla.

Regardless, the statue shows a humanoid with three fingers (and one thumb each). The thing has bird looking feet and what looks like an 8-pack. Which honestly, is one of the weirdest things about the statue. Well, minus the head and wings. The head has got some bird beak and red eyes (the only thing that isn’t shiny metal–they’re actually red on the statue). 

But you may be interested in the wings. They are, as the name implies, moth-looking. They’re also a bit veiny and have… holes… in them. Which seems very counter-intuitive to the idea of a flying cryptid. 

Some artist renditions have the Mothman all black and feathery looking, but the red eyes and adult human size remain fairly consistent.

Sightings

It is generally accepted that the first sighting of the Mothman was recorded on November 12, 1966, when a group of people were digging a grave in West Virginia. We realize that that sounds super suspicious, but we promise it was just business as normal. Like they worked at a cemetery and were just digging a grave.

Anyway, three days later, on the 15th, some couples in a car again saw the Mothman. They reported a “large grey creature” (it was not shining in chrome) with glowing red eyes. They were followed in their car, and reported hearing bat/birdlike noises. After the incident they would return to see if they were actually going nuts or not–and they saw the creature again. Then they went to the police. 

As a side note, if you see a monster why would you want to go back to where you found it? You’re the person who dies first in every horror movie, we swear.

One of the more popular sightings during this time was the story of a man named Newell Partridge. He reported some weird funky stuff with his TV, followed by noises outside his home. Sticking a flashlight outside, he spotted two eyes that shone akin to bicycle reflected. But what people really latched onto was the disappearance of Partridge’s German Shepherd. 

Over the next few days, many description-matched sightings of our winged-moth-like friend would go down, being associated with a larger-than-normal heron. Later, though, a professor from West Virginia University would come out and put many of these sightings to rest. Dr. Robert Smith let us all know that these descriptions were very consistent with the sandhill crane. The poor bird was probably just lost. Or it was disfigured from making its home by a toxic WWII bunker.

Later Sightings

Mothman sightings would dwindle over time, cropping up now and then, until December 15, 1967. The collapse of the Silver Bridge killed 46 people, and many believers would come to associate the creature with the event. 

In 2016, there was a reported sighting of the Mothman, this time in photograph form. Most people dismissed it as fake though. Heck, that article ends with “real or not, he brings people into the town, so he’s here to stay.” It’s almost like the Mothman is basically a tourist attraction.

The Mothman, About 50 Years Later

There was a reason we said the Mothman is basically a tourist attraction. Because whether or not you believe in the Mothman, there’s no denying the throes of capitalism has claimed its image. 

If you go to Point Pleasant you’ll find Mothman plushies, cookies, coffee, and even Mothman Pizza. There’s even a Mothman Museum you can visit for like $10 bucks. All that and a Mothman Festival that celebrated its 18th annual go just this last September! The point is, Point Pleasant really turned what used to be a menace around. We guess if you can’t fight them, embrace your red eyed overlords. 

Suffice to say, it’s more likely than not that the Mothman was just a disfigured bird, especially as many sightings were around an old, toxic WWII bunker, and later sightings would describe it as “birdlike.” Maybe the crane would appreciate the legacy it has left, not as a bird, but as a man.

Like weird creatures? Try identifying them here.

Comments

comments

Kyler
About Kyler 103 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle. He currently spends most of his time hitting the university grind while drinking black coffee like water.