The most common type of moth tattoo is the Death’s-Head Hawkmoth. Obviously there are a multitude of other moths to choose from in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes so there’s no need to limit yourself. But as I said, this is by far the most commonly used moth for tattoo designs.
Because of the Death’s-Head’s skull like marking and the high pitched squeaking sound it makes it has been associated with the occult and put into the same kind of category as bats, ravens, black cats and rats.
Moses Harris, an entomologist, wrote this lovely little quote about these moths in 1840, “It is regarded not as the creation of a benevolent being, but the device of evil spirits—spirits enemies to man—conceived and fabricated in the dark, and the very shining of its eyes is thought to represent the fiery element whence it is supposed to have proceeded. Flying into their apartments in the evening at times it extinguishes the light; foretelling war, pestilence, hunger, death to man and beast”. Sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings!
It’s up to you whether you think that awesome or creepy and weird. As I said though, if you’re not into that kind of thing there’s plenty of other moths out there for you to choose from with a lot of meaning and symbolism attached due to the many interesting characteristics of these creatures.
Moths are nocturnal and can therefore represent dreams and shadows. The way they navigate using light can also provide some very interesting meaning to your tattoo. Moths evolved to navigate by moon light (unproven but it’s pretty damn likely) back when we hadn’t put up lights everywhere to distract them and ruin everything for them, moths would follow this light in the darkness and not stop. This is a fantastic metaphor for having faith in something and following that faith through the darkness.
This meaning can also be flipped on its head. Moths can be used to represent the meaning that sometimes blind faith can lead to destruction. This is due to the fact that moths are so sure that following light is the right way to go that they will fly straight into fire and obviously perish pretty quickly. Then again that could represent sacrifice for the sake of keeping faith in something. Depends on how you want to look at it!
One final thing to point out is that moths can blend in with their surroundings such as leaves, trees and branches to the point where they are practically invisible, even during broad daylight. This can hold meaning for people who maybe feel like they have a side to their personality that makes them need to hide from time to time or for someone who blends in at first sight but is much more when seen for who they really are.