Catocala of Montana

Catocala relicta, form "clara", courtesy of Tim Dyson copyright.

This tentative checklist has been compiled by Bill Oehlke.

The following Catocala species (yes*) are either confirmed by specific sightings or generally accepted publications. There are others listed as "probably" or "possibly", based on established ranges in nearby states. Please recognize, therefore, the list is speculative, but, should you encounter a Catocala in Montana, the list will probably give you a head start in your quest for an identification.

Please report sightings to Bill Oehlke. If you send electronic images, I can probably do the ids.

As of April 4, 2010, this page has been further updated as per research data compiled by Larry Gall.

I would like to continue to refine the listings to county levels so images and data (date, location at least to county level, bait, lights) would be very much appreciated. Please send same to Bill Oehlke. All images that I use on my websites remain the property of respective photographers and images are credited as such.

The Identification Keys Diagram should help you understand the terminology I have used in describing the various species.

Visit Montana Sphingidae: Hawk Moths/Sphinx Moths

Small Orange-Yellow Underwings: Wingspans: 50mm and under

** 8865 praeclara; Praeclara Underwing, (40-50mm); Pale greenish-grey with considerable contrasting brown shading beyond post medial line. Black basal dash very close to inner margin and another dash, higher up in median area. Note the contrasting shapes of reniform and subreniform spots.

** 8865 praeclara manitoba; Manitoba Underwing, wingspan: 40-50mm. Am line black, distinct, oblique in its upper half and perpendicular to inner margin in its lower half. There is a distinct, narrow, white, toothed subterminal band. The hindwing loop is complete.

Small-Medium Orange-Salmon Underwings: Wingspans: 65mm and under

** 8857 Catocala ultronia; Ultronia Underwing, wingspan: 50-63mm. Fws typically gray-brown, with a distinct and very dark inner margin and characteristic light brown patch, underscored by very dark arc, near wingtip. Underwings can be yellow to orange to salmon.

** 8857 Catocala ultronia form lucinda; Ultronia Underwing, wingspan: 50-63mm.

In form lucinda most of the forewing is bright grey.

On all forms there is extensive orange-salmon colouration on hw ventral surface, and there is a dark discal lunule.

Catocala ultronia, form nigrescens, Ultronia Underwing, wingspan: 50-63mm. Melanic form nigrescens: dorsal forewing is very dark. Even darker subapical arc, basal dash, dash near anal angle are still visible. Dark basal hairs on hindwing. Harold J. Vermes slide, used with permission from his son.

Catocala ultronia form celia.

In form celia there is a wide, light grey band separating a dark region along inner margin and a dark patch near the apex. The ventral surface of forewings of all forms has a generous suffusion of orange-salmon scales in the lower half of the median area.

faustina; 58 mm. Fw markings relatively weak on almost uniform drab grey-brown ground colour. Two middle "teeth" in forewing pm line are relatively short. Hw inner band narrow and truncated well before inner margin. Black extenssions into white hindwing fringe continue as thin lines along veins. June until October; willows

californica; 65mm. Fws dark, gritty. Markings indistinct. Dark, large reniform spot; am and pm lines indistinct. Subterminal line inwardly lined with light scales. Hw fringe white, checked halfway to outer edge with black, black lines on veins extending through fringe. Some orange bleeding at apex. Black median band ends well before im. June until August; willow or walnut??

Catocala hermia; Hermia Underwing: 58-68mm; pinkish: Fw almost uniform, grey-brown or clay coloured; thin, yet contrasting lines. Distinct large double reniform spot. Large concolourous subrenifrom spot usually open. Hw pinkish red, relatively even, narrow black bands. Inner black band ends before im. Fringe white, checked, pink/red "bleeding" along outer band, near apex.

Medium Orange-Salmon Underwings: Wingspans: 65mm - 75mm

** 8808 luciana; Luciana Underwing; 57-70mm. Luciana has pale grey brown fw with very distinct am & pm lines. Subreniform spot has elongated narrow "tail" that seems to open through postmedial line. Hw inner black band does not reach inner margin. Fringe is checked and paler (almost yellow) than salmon ground colour.

faustina allusa. White interior outline of terminal line is typical of this species and two jagged upper "teeth" of postmedial line are typical of most poplar feeders. There is also a dark bar a few mm up from inner margin of the forewing. Subreniform spot and area interior and above tend to be lighter. willows and poplars

#8817 briseis; Briseis Underwing; 60-70mm: Fws predominantly mottled dark-grey-brown with some lighter areas between pm and subterminal lines, at base of am and pm lines along im, and over subreniform spot running diagonally toward costa. Pml w/o greatly elongated, sharly pointed "teeth" near apex. Hw fringe white, unbroken; inner black band (fairly even) reaches im. July-Sept., probably northern only; willows; poplars

Large Orange-Salmon Underwings: Wingspans: 65mm, usually 70-95mm

** 8821 semirelicta; Semirelict Underwing; wingspan: 65-75mm. Fw ground colour white with dark lines and shadings. Diffuse dark bar runs from center of basal area to outer margin a few mm above anal angle. Note regular dentation of st line. Inner black bar on lower wing usually terminates well before inner margin. The form "atala" has forewing that is uniformly grey. Unijuga is usually larger and has less contrasting black lines. Inner black bar on unijuga usually reaches inner margin.

** 8822 meskei TM; Meske's Underwing; 65-75mm. Fws less distinctly marked compared to unijuga, some red-orange at the hindwing apex and just inside the fringe along the outer margin in meskei that is lacking in unijuga. Fw subreniform spot is opened or connected to the postmedian line. The hindwing postmedian band nearly straight, turned in and tapering near anal angle. Tim Dyson image.

Catocala grotiana; Grote's Underwing: 70-80mm unconfirmed, possibly southern: White outlines outside pm, inside subterminal lines distinguish this species. Hw inner black band even, relatively thin, terminates well before inner margin. Fringe: heavily checked, charcoal grey along inner margin. Hws orange or red. August until September; willows

Large Orange-Salmon Underwings: Wingspans: 75mm and larger

** 8801 Catocala ilia; Ilia; wingspan: 65-82mm.unconfirmed Several different forms, most have characteristic white area in and around reniform spot. Diffuse dark arc running from this spot to just below apex. Subreniform spot squarish, concave inner, outer edges and elongated constriction connecting it to pml. White dots near fw om in character with overall "contrasting" look.

** 8801 Catocala ilia; Ilia; form conspicua

In this form the entire reniform spot is heavily suffused with white scaling on an otherwise darker ground colour. Hence the form name "conspicua".

Tim Dyson image. possibly in eastern Montana

** 8801 Catocala ilia; Ilia; form satanas

In this melanic form the entire forewing, including the reniform spot is very dark. Hence the form name "satanas".

The dark basal streak is still evident on this form.

Tim Dyson image.

** 8801 Catocala ilia; Ilia; form normani In this semi-melanic form the entire forewing, excluding the reniform spot, is relatively dark. The brownish, kidney-shaped center of the reniform spot is outlined in white. The basal streak and subapical arc are still visible. July until September, probably southeast; oaks. Tim Dyson image.

Catocala junctura; Joined Underwing; 67-85mm. Fw is usually dark brownish-gray to evenly powdered blue-grey w/o significant markings. Doubled reniform spot often obscure. Thin, slightly darker am and pm lines run from costa to im, not widely spaced at im. Hw salmon/ orange-pink, narrow inner black band turns in sharply, does not meet dark-haired im. May-October; poplars, willows

** 8798 Catocala neogama; 70-85mm. unconfirmed Note brown head & thorax & larger size compared to C. palaeogama.Slightly smaller than subnata, Fws darker grey brown with pronounced markings. Examination of hind tibia needed for identification. Neogama's tend to be flattened, unevenly, sparsely spined while subnata's tibia are cylindrical, w spines dense, uniform in distribution. Yellow-orange.

** 8805 unijuga; Once-married; wingspan: 70-90mm: Catocala unijuga: fairly wide black inner band (almost reaching inner margin) in hw; very distinctive patterning in fw. Meskei tend to have narrower band, dustier (less distinct) looking forewing. Semirelicta tend to have inner bands that terminate well before inner margins. Also note very white fringe on both forewings and hindwings.

** 8806 Catocala parta ??; Mother Underwing, wingspan: 70-85mm. Black dashes in basal, subapical, anal areas help to identify this species. Hws may be yellow to yellowish-orange but more often are salmon-red. Note face-head-like markings on the thorax. Hw: first (nearest apex) black protrusion into the white fringe "noticeably" larger than others.

aholibah; 80-90mm: Fw: mix of grey, brown, preponderance of brown in subterminal area. Double reniform spot has diffuse brown outline of inner oval. Subreniform spot small, distinctly outlined in black, light coloured, does not connect to pml. Upper two teeth of pml elongate, followed by relatively smooth line til next tooth below subreniform spot. Hw salmon or pinkish. unconfirmed

Large Black Underwings (Banded): Wingspans: 70-80mm

** 8803 Catocala relicta ; Forsaken, White, Relict; 70-80mm: Considerable variation with regard to black/white concentrations on fws.
Typical specimens have basal and subterminal areas with blackish scales.

Black hws, with brilliant even white inner band and white fringe, are distinctive. June until October.

** 8803 Catocala relicta ; Forsaken, White, Relict; 70-80mm: Considerable variation with regard to black/white concentrations on fws. Form clara: basal and subterminal areas predominantly white.

Typical specimens have basal and subterminal areas with blackish scales. Black hws, with brilliant even white inner band and white fringe, are distinctive. June until October.

** 8803 Catocala relicta ; Forsaken, White, Relict; 70-80mm: Considerable variation with regard to black/white concentrations on fws. Form phrynia: evenly dusted with grey over entire forewing. Typical specimens have basal and subterminal areas with blackish scales. Black hws, with brilliant even white inner band and white fringe, are distinctive. June until October, poplars and willows

Large Pink Underwings

** 8834 amatrix Sweetheart Underwing; (wingspan 75-95mm). Very skittish, frequently hides in caves, under bridges, under tree bark, etc. by day, resting with head down. Hw patterning and colouration similar to that of C. concumbens, but large size (wingspan 75-95mm) and dark bar running from basal area to just below apex distinguishes C. amatrix.

** 8834 amatrix form selecta Sweetheart Underwing. Very skittish, frequently hides in caves, under bridges, under tree bark, etc. by day, resting with head down. Several forms: selecta (to the left) which lacks dark bar on fw. Hesseli: melanic form; pallida: very pale form.

** 8834 amatrix form hesseli Sweetheart Underwing; (wingspan 75-95mm). Very skittish and frequently hides in caves, under bridges, under tree bark, etc. by day, resting with head down. The melanic form hesseli is very dark and displays dark basal hairs in the hindwing.

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Visit "Systematics of moths in the genus Catocala (Lepidoptera, Erebidae) IV.
Nomenclatorial stabilization of the Nearctic fauna, with a revised synonymic check list";
ZooKeys 39: 3783 (2010) by Lawrence F. Gall, David C. Hawks

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Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.

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Sighting reports:

"Thanks so much for your informative website for the white underwing. I obtained a nice specimen in Missoula county, Montana in Aug of 2006." Charles Miller.