Catocala atocala

Catocala atocala
Brou, 1985

Catocala atocala (male-Louisiana) courtesy of Vernon A. Brou.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke.
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.


Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae, Leach, [1815]
Subfamily: Erebinae, Leach, [1815]
Tribe: Catocalini, Boisduval, [1828]
Genus: Catocala, Schrank, 1802


Catocala atocala (forewing length: males: 33-37mm; females: 35-37mm), Brou's underwing, (wingspan: mm) flies mainly in riparian floodplain forests from Louisiana west to Oklahoma and north to southern Illinois.

It has also been reported in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

In 2006 it was reported in western Kentucky.

Vernon A. Brou chose the species name (rhyming) to try "to do something unique: atocala is simply Catocala without the C. (ka-ta-ko-la a-ta-ko-la)"

The forewing is medium brown and light gray (males), or white (females), with black postmedial, antemedial and basal lines. There is a black subterminal band from vein R4 to the anal angle. The area between the postmedial line and clearly defined reniform spot above vein M2 is mostly black. The brown basal area is enclosed by a black (front) and brown (rear) antemedial line. The area between the postmedial and subterminal lines is strongly marked with brown. Colouration is slightly paler brown between reniform and ante medial line in discal cell. Inner margin of forewing area between postmedial and antemedial lines distinctly gray in males and white in females. This light area extends basad of the antemedial line below vein A! in the form of a narrow band paralleling curved antemedial line and continuing distance to base along inner margin.

"The rear of the upper strongly marked portion of the antemedial line of atocala is angled toward the anal angle or outer margin of the forewing, unlike agrippina which is angled toward anal angle or inner margin. The antemedial line intersects the costal margin distally on atocala compared to agrippina. The reniform is more clearly defined in atocala. The closed subreniform of atocala may be open or closed in agrippina. The distinct basal dash of agrippina females is nearly absent in atocala females. The hindwing undersurface white areas on agrippina are beige on atocala. The hindwing bulge (discal spot) on atocala, is not present on agrippina." Vernon Brou


Catocala atocala are usually on the wing in July and August. The Catocala atocala caterpillar probably eats Juglans nigra and Juglans cinerea, but it seems most strongly associated with Nutmeg Hickory (Carya myristiciformis).


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala atocala females emit an airbourne pheromone and males use their antennae to track the scent plume.


Eggs are deposited on tree bark in the fall and hatch the following spring.

Larval Food Plants

Listed below are primary food plant(s) and alternate food plants. It is hoped that this alphabetical listing followed by the common name of the foodplant will prove useful. The list is not exhaustive, although some species seem very host specific. Experimenting with closely related foodplants is worthwhile.

Carya myristiciformis .......
Juglans cinerea
Juglans nigra

Nutmeg Hickory
Black walnut

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