Winged humanoid creature reported in West Virginia from
November 1966 to December 1967, along with strange lights,
apparitions of men in black, and other occult phenomena supposedly
connected with UFOs. These phenomena culminated
on December 15, 1967, with the collapse of the Silver Bridge
across the Ohio River at Point Pleasant. The name ‘‘Mothman’’
was the inspiration of a newspaper editor, who derived it from
the Batman comic book hero, then the subject of a popular television
In his book The Mothman Prophecies An Investigation Into the
Mysterious American Visits of the Infamous Feathery Garuda (1975),
author John A. Keel suggests that these and other occult appearances
might be the work of evil entities. The term ‘‘garuda’’
derives from ancient Hindu mythology, where Garuda is
king of the birds, half-man, half-bird, the vehicle of the god
Vishnu. In the religious epic the Ramayana, Jatayu is the son of
Vishnu’s Garuda, and dies fighting against the demon Ravana
in an attempt to prevent the abduction of the princess Sita.
In February 1976, three schoolteachers in Texas reported
sightings of a ‘‘Big Bird,’’ discussed in Grey Barker’s Newsletter
(no. 7, March 1977). An earlier issue of the newsletter (no. 5,
March 1976) had reported a more bizarre claimed abductee
experience with ‘‘Vegetable Man,’’ pictured as a triffid-style animated
UFO authority Jacques Vallee compared Mothman and
similar apparitions to Springheeled Jack, the legendary creature
of early nineteenth-century Britain, who attacked travelers
and terrified women with his giant leaps and diabolical appearance.
Mothman was said to chase motorists and to frighten
women. Witnesses stated that he was large, gray in color, without
feathers, and with eyes that glowed red. It has been suggested
that Mothman is a UFO phenomenon.
Clark, Jerome. Encyclopedia of Strange and Unexplained Phenomena.
Detroit Gale Research, 1993.
Haining, Peter. The Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Springheeled
Jack. London Frederick Muller, 1977.
Keel, John A. The Mothman Prophecies An Investigation Into
the Mysterious American Visits of the Infamous Feathery Garuda. New
York Saturday Review PressDutton, 1975. Reprint, New York
New American Library, 1976. Reprinted as Visitors From Space
The Astonishing True Story of the Mothman Prophecies. St. Albans,
England Panther, 1976.