Name: Mothman

Alias: None

First Reported: 1966

Location: Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Is Mothman Real? An Origin Story

Despite being known for living near Point Pleasant, Mothman’s origin story surprisingly begins over an hour away in Clendenin, W.Va. On November 12, 1996, five gravediggers, who were working in a nearby cemetery, reported seeing a humanoid figure flying over their heads. 

Three days later, Mothman made himself known near Point Pleasant. A pair of young couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were driving near a place known as the “TNT area,” a now-abandoned World War II munitions plant. A “large flying man with 10-foot wings” appeared. The man looked grey with glowing red eyes. Reportedly, the creature stalked their car, flying over 100 MPH to keep up.

In the upcoming months, a plethora of newly-reported Mothman sightings appeared. A pair of volunteer firefighters claim to have seen a large bird with glowing red eyes. Newell Partridge told Sheriff George Johnson that the creature’s eyes glowed like bicycle reflectors and blamed it for the disappearance of his German Shepard. Sheriff Johnson, along with many others, brushed this off as a simple misidentification, but it wouldn’t be long before Mothman would force the people in the town to take notice with physical violence. 

On December 15, 1997, one of the biggest tragedies in West Virginia history took place – the Silver Bridge collapsed, killing 46 people. One man described the incident as devastating to Point Pleasant. Nearly everyone knew each other in this small town, and most people that lived there knew at least one person that died in that tragedy. This incident is the true beginning of the legend of Mothman. The terrorizing cryptid is now seen as a precursor to tragedy.

The Georgian newspaper Svobodnaya Gruziya added fuel to the fire when a Russian UFOlogist claimed that a Mothman sighting in Moscow, Russia in 1999 preceded the Russian apartment bombings. If Mothman shows up, danger is coming.

What Does Mothman Look Like?

Mothman is a bipedal humanoid creature, standing roughly seven feet tall. Boasting large wings that extend out between 10 and 15 feet, Mothman can fly over 100 miles per hour when needed. Typically, Mothman flies straight up and glides through the air from high above. 

mothman statue west virginia
Image Credit: Howder Family

This terrifying cryptid has a dark coloring — either black or grey and large, glowing-red eyes. Some have suggested that it doesn’t have a head, and that its eyes are located at the top of its body, but others deny such claims. What has been denied is the overwhelming presence of evil when you look into its eyes. One witness suffered from a near mental breakdown after seeing the creature, claiming Mothman’s face was monstrous and horrible. 

In order to kill, this creature has claws protruding from its hands. Its legs and feet are strange and infrequently used, but Mothman can walk on the ground. It utilizes an odd shuffling or waddling movement. It is similar to a tragic car accident — horrifying and dangerous but fascinating. Mothman is sure to give viewers a case of cacospectamania. 

Where Does Mothman Live?

The first Mothman sighting occurred in Clendenin, W. Va, but Clendenin is certainly not its home.

Mothman lives in Point Pleasant. This West Virginia city is where the majority of Mothman sightings have come from, specifically prior to the Silver Bridge collapse in 1967. This is also where the annual Mothman festival is held each year.

point pleasant west virginia
Image Credit: Jenn Coffill

More specifically, though, this West Virginia cryptid lives in the “TNT” area. This former munitions plant back in World War II is now abandoned. Mothman is frequently seen around the area, leading many to believe that it lives in the plant.

Mothman does like to travel, as well. With sightings and reports in Moscow, Russia in 1999 prior to a series of apartment bombings throughout the country and more recent sightings in Chicago, Ill, Mothman seems to explore the entire world.


Barred Owl

The barred owl, also known as the hoot owl, is one potential theory regarding the true identity of Mothman. This owl lives throughout North America, and generally prefers a forest habitat, though they have also been known to live in open woodland areas. Barred owls have a mixture of brown and grey feathers and feature dark rings around their eyes. As the only owls in the eastern United States that have brown eyes, some believe Mothman’s red eyes are simply a reflection of light on this unique trait. 

barred owl
Image Credit: Pexels

The two major holes in this theory are that barred owls are small in comparison to Mothman and fly too slow to account for certain Mothman sightings and reports. Adult barred owls generally grow to roughly two feet tall and have a four-foot wingspan. Even the fastest owl in the world, the great horned owl, can only fly up to 40 miles per hour. Mothman, on the other hand, has been seen flying over 100 miles per hour.

American Barn Owl

The American barn owl has a similar shape to Mothman, which has sparked some debate as to whether it has accounted for some Mothman sightings. 

The most distinguishing factor of the American barn owl, however, is its tail, which makes it easily identifiable while in flight. Mothman has been described as having a tail-like appendage. The American barn owl also has distinct black eyes, which would be difficult to construe as red.

This owl is also even smaller than the barred owl, standing roughly one foot tall with a three-foot wingspan. And as noted above, even the fastest owls only fly up to 40 miles per hour. 

Sandhill Crane

In a similar fashion to the Jersey Devil, some people believe the sandhill crane is Mothman’s mistaken identity. This bird is rather large and has up to a seven-foot wingspan. It also has red circles on its face, which could explain Mothman’s glowing eyes. This theory suggests most weren’t familiar with the sandhill crane in West Virginia, which caused widespread panic when the first eyewitness saw the new creature out of its migration route.

With all theories, it has a few flaws. The sandhill crane generally has grey or rust color feathers and doesn’t have claws on its hands. It does have claws on its feet for digging and protection. Like the owls, the sandhill crane can’t fly nearly as fast as Mothman, with a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. Though fast, it is nowhere near the 100 miles per hour witnesses report Mothman flying.


Another popular bird species, the heron, is also considered a possible mistaken identity for Mothman. There are plenty of different subspecies of heron, but most can grow to roughly five feet tall. They also have dark-colored feathers and could have reflective eyes if light is shined at them in a certain way.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Despite these similarities, there are plenty of differences between herons and Mothman. Herons have a relatively distinct s-shaped neck and would be difficult to misidentify. And the same as all the other birds, they don’t have the ability to fly fast enough.

Failed Government Experiment 

Mothman is believed to live in a former munitions plant that operated during World War II, the TNT area. But what if that was simply a front for something more heinous? 

World War II was a dangerous time with world-changing implications. Everyone was looking for military advantages. Imagine the advantage of developing genetically-altered super soldiers. Could Mothman have been a failed government experiment?

There are risks involved with genetic engineering like controlling the genetically-modified creatures after creating them. Mothman could have used its abnormal size, wings, and other advantageous and harmful traits to escape the military facility. This would explain its ability to fly so fast.

The world will never know.


Speaking of conspiracy theories, the TNT area could have been a front designed by the U.S. Government to hold a creature from outer space, much like the theory regarding the Chupacabra in Puerto Rico. That’s right — Mothman might be an alien.

This humanoid creature has features that haven’t been seen in this world before. UFO sightings happen all throughout the United States. With its other-worldly traits, it could’ve escaped captivity and roamed the world, hidden from humans for the most part for years.

Bad Omen

Mothman sightings bring fear and tragedy. Some consider this cryptid to be a demon or bad omen. An omen is “an event regarded as a portent of good or evil.” 

raven bad omen
Image Credit: Pixabay

This evil creature does seem to show up wherever calamity strikes. In the 1960s, the Silver Bridge collapsed in West Virginia. Monthman was there. Then, in Russia, the Russian apartment bombings took place. Mothman was there. In Minnesota, another major bridge collapsed. Mothman was there. In Freiburg, Germany, a mine collapsed. Mothman was there. Some even suggest this cryptid haunts the nuclear plant at Chernobyl and was present prior to the world’s most famous nuclear meltdown.

Mothman has now been sighted multiple times throughout Chicago, causing many to believe a terrible event is likely to happen in the Windy City. 

This creature shows up prior to an evil or dangerous event, is seen by the public, and disappears, leaving only destruction in its path. This is known as the Mothman curse. 

Mothman Sightings

The first ever Mothman sighting happened on November 12, 1966 in Clendenin, W. Va. A group of five grave diggers were working in a cemetery when they saw a creature fly out from the nearby trees. Little did they know, this flying creaturing would turn out to be one of the most terrifying cryptids on the planet.

The first encounter happened only three days later near what is commonly referred to the TNT area in Point Pleasant. A pair of couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, reported seeing a “large flying man with ten-foot wings” following their car. They said the creature was grey with large, glowing red eyes and flew upwards of 100 miles per hour, chasing their vehicle. 

More sightings followed. Two firefighters claimed to have seen a “large bird with red eyes.” Another man claimed he shined a flashlight at the cryptid, looking into it’s glowing eyes. He also blamed it for the disappearance of his German Shepard. There is no shortage of sightings — possibly over 100 –prior to the Silver Bridge collapse on December 15, 1967. 

Although the details aren’t well known, many have claimed sightings of this tragedy-bringing cryptid in Moscow, Russia in 1999. These sightings couldve been the precursor to the Russian apartment bombings, as Mothman hasn’t been spotted in the area since. 

In the 2000s, the dangerous humanoid has been sighted in quite a few places that soon became the victims of calamity. There have been sightings of this cryptid in Germany, Chernobyl, New York and Minnesota. Nowhere seems to be safe from the possible destruction that may follow. 

chernobyl nuclear disaster

There have also been plenty of Mothman sightings in recent years near the Chicago area. Quite frankly, there have been too many to count throughout the 2010s. Reports have come anywhere from locals claiming to see the cryptid flying throughout the city to truckers driving on the highway, claiming to seeing this creature in the distance. Some have deemed this creature the “Lake Michigan Mothman” because of its continued stay near the area. 

Popular Culture References


Gary Barker published The Silver Bridge in 1970. This book outlines the collapse of the Silver Bridge in West Virginia, and outlines Mothman’s potential involvement. It was reprinted and retitled The Silver Bridge: The Classic Mothman Tale in 2008.

John A. Keel first published The Eighth Tower in 1977, which slightly delves into Mothman’s world. He focused more on the cryptid in his 2007 book The Mothman Prophecies, which was originally published by the Saturday Review Press in 1975. 

Macklin and Rau Myres published The Little Giant Book of True Ghost Stories in 2001, which discusses the cryptid.

In 2001, Donnie Sergent Jr. published Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend

Loren Coleman wrote Mothman and Other Curious Encounters in 2002.

Andrew Colvin released two Mothman-related works in 2007. The Mothman’s Photographer: The Work of an Artist Touched by the Prophecies of the Infamous Mothman and The Mothman’s Photographs II: Meetings With Remarkable Witnesses Touched by Paranormal Phenomena, UFOs, and the Prophecies of West Virginia’s Infamous Mothman both highlight the cryptid’s life.

Brad Fear published A Macabre Myth of a Moth-Man in 2008. 

In 2009, Bill Myers released Angel of Wrath: A Novel

Perverted Communion, a book written by Steve Ressel, came out in 2010.

Stephen Bullard and others outlined a West Virginia tragedy in their 2012 work The Silver Bridge Disaster of 1967

Jen A. Wood released Point Pleasant in 2013. 

W.L. Schmidt published Threads of Faithfulness in 2013. 

Denver Michaels discusses Mothman, along with other West Virginia cryptids, in his Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia book.


The Mothman Prophecies is a 2002 film by Mark Pellington, based on the book written by John Keel. 

Mothman is a 2012 horror film that utilizes the cryptid’s dark history to frighten its audiences. 

Other films about Mothman include: Amityville: Mt. Misery Rd. (2018), Moth (2016), Bell Witch Haunting (2004), Eyes of Mothman (2011), The Mothman Curse (2014), Search for the Mothman (2002), and others.

Mothman is discussed in the fifth episode of the fourth season of MonsterQuest, the first episode of the first season in Travel Channel’s Myth or Monster, and the 2019 television series In Search of Monsters’s third episode of the first season.


The Cryptkins blind box toy line, presented by Cryptozoic Entertainment, released Mothman as one of its cryptids in 2018. 

Mothman is featured in the popular video game, Fallout 76. Mothman eggs lead gamers into Point Pleasant, where they collect firefly goo and light a lamp. The wise Mothman eventually shows up, enlightening your character. And it is peaceful unless attacked.

This cryptid is the talking point of the Mothman Festival. This is an annual festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It takes place in September every year. This is a cosplay event with music, vendors, guest speakers, bus tours, and other attractions and events. 

Mothman has its own museum in Point Pleasant, W. Va, which is open seven days a week and details the most important aspects of one of the world’s most famous cryptids. 


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