Catocala briseis

Catocala briseis
W.H. Edwards, 1864

Catocala briseis courtesy of Martin Jagelka.

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 briseis, the Briseis underwing, (wingspan: 60-70mm) flies in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, and possibly Newfoundland in Canada and southward through Connecticut to New Jersey and Pennsylvania and west, at least, to Colorado in the United States. It is recorded in Washington in the U.S.

Scott Shaw reports briseis is common "on Pole Mountain, in the Medicine Bow Forest, Wyoming, about 10 miles east of Laramie near I-80 in the mountain willow bogs."

Image to left, courtesy of Tim Dyson copyright, Peterborough, Ontario, August 16, 2004.

It has also been reported in Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Moths previously designated as Catocala minerva are now recognized as being synonymous with Catocala briseis.

Tom Middagh confirms them in Minnesota.

Visit Catocala briseis recto and verso, 67mm, Regina, Saskatchewan, August 3, 2008, courtesy of Tim Taylor.

Visit Catocala briseis recto and verso, 64mm, RCanyon Creek, Ravalli County, Montana, August 17, 2009, courtesy of Travis Koch.

The forewings are predominantly a mottled dark-grey-brown with some lighter areas 1) between the postmedial and subterminal lines, 2) at the very base of the antemedial and postmedial lines along the inner margin, and 3)over the subreniform spot running diagonally toward the costa.

The postmedial lines do not have greatly elongated and sharly pointed "teeth" near the apex.

The hindwing fringe is white and unbroken and the inner black band (fairly even) reaches the inner margin.

Catocala briseis, Manitoba

Form "albida" has forewings that are light grey. Other forms include "briseana" Strand, 1914, and "clarissima" Beutenmüller, 1918. Cassino described the subspecies minerva in 1917, now (2010) recognized as synonymous with Catocala briseis.

Catocala briseis female, Longueuil, Quebec,
taken at bait, August 2000, courtesy of Pierre Legault.

Like Catocala parta, Catocala briseis has a well formed discal lunule in the cell on the ventral surface of the hindwing. In C. briseis the basal area and the cell are almost completely filled with red.

Catocala briseis, Peterborough, Ontario, July 22, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala briseis, Peterborough, Ontario, July 22, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Groteiana is similar but has an inner black band that terminates well before the inner margin. Unijuga and meskei are similar to specimens of briseis that lack the lighter area between the postmedial and subterminal lines, but both those species have much more irregular hindwing bands. Parta has lighter coloured "orange" bands on the hindwings as well as fringe that is checked.

Catocala briseis, courtesy of Tim Dyson, copyright
Peterborough, Ontario, August 16, 2004.


Catocala briseis are usually on the wing from July to September in Quebec, where it is common, with specimens being taken as late as early November.

Tim Dyson took this image of a fresh one (unnamed dark form) in Peterborough, Ontario, July 20, 2005.

Catocala briseis dark form, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

The Catocala briseis caterpillar shows a preference for willows and poplars.

Catocala briseis courtesy of Anthony W. Thomas.


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala briseis 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.

The larva is grey and tan with fine reticulations. There are two orange spots on top of the head, and a black arc extends from the base of the mandibles over the top of the head. There are small orange warts on the abdominal segments An orange and black patch divides abdominal segments five and six. The ventral fringe is short.

This species is not common (west coast) and feeds on willow during June and July.

Catocala briseis courtesy of Jeff Miller
from Caterpillars of Pacific Northwest Forests and Woodlands.

Catocala briseis courtesy of Martin Jagelka.

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.

Populus tremuloides......

Quaking Aspen

Diagnostic Characters:

Wingspan: 60-70mm

Forewing dorsal surface:
1) the "teeth" of the postmedian line are not greatly elongated; except for the longest "tooth", the others are generally greatly reduced
2) there is usually a prominent, whitish, inward lining of the dark subterminal line
3) there is usually some yellowish-brown scaling in the area between the pml and the stl below the longest projection of the pml
4) the distinct subreniform spot is large, generally constricted as it joins the pml

Hindwing dorsal surface:
1) the black median band tapers as it reaches all the way to the inner margin
2) there are some dark hairs in the basal area, generally darkest along the veins
3) white fringe is heavily checked in black along veins

Forewing ventral surface:
1) the black postmedian/marginal band continues almost to the apex, fading to grey just before the apex.

Hindwing ventral surface:
1) the basal area is clear salmon except for the first two sections (sometimes the third) below the costa
2) the discal lunule is thick from the median band to the intersection with the first wing vein, becoming much thinner (just a wisp) as it angles to the next vein
3) the small area between the lunule and the median band is also salmon
4) the first four wing sections below the costa, between the black median band and the black marginal band are usually white, sometimes with a light suffusion of salmon in the third and/or fourth section down.

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