California Counties

Catocala junctura, Aliso Viejo, Orange County, California,
August 6, 2010, courtesy of Kevin Lentz.

Visit Orange County, Thumbnail Checklist.

This distribution chart is a compilation of information from Kelly Richer's extensive collecting data for the state of California.

Catocala species are often very difficult to identify. Distributions probably exceed those noted.

Apologies go out to residents of southeastern Inyo County. As a result of trying to display maps in a readable size, accompanied by a checklist of scientific names, the triangular southeastern corner of Inyo County does not appear on the display.

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.

I have recently (April 7, 2017) added Catocala ventura to the list based on the new name put forward by Kons & Borth, 2016.

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

Visit California Sphingidae: Hawk Moths/Sphinx Moths

Clicking on a scientific name will take you to a file with pictures and/or information.

Catocala relicta and semirelicta yes are reported in California, but without an assigned county. I suspect both species would be in the northern counties. Those species listed as either Catocala nevadensis or Catocala pura would be Catocala semirelicta.

A thumbnail pictoral checklist is now available near bottom of this page.

Northern California

Catocala piatrix dionyza, Yuba City, Sutter County, California,
June 14, 2013, courtesy of Joel Garcia and family.

A Catocala aholibah
A C. faustina allusa
C Catocala californica
C C. chelidonia occidentalis
C C. faustina cleopatra
E Catocala erichi = californica
F Catocala faustina
F C. hermia francisca
H Catocala hermia
H C. semirelicta hippolyta
z Catocala ilia zoe
I Catocala irene
J Catocala jessica
J Catocala johnsoniana
J Catocala junctura
M Catocala mcdunnoughi
N C. nevadensis = semirelicta
O Catocala ophelia
d Catocala piatrix dionyza
P C. pura = semirelicta
V Catocala verrilliana
b C. v. beutenmuller = verrilliana

Central California

Catocala verrilliana, Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, California,
July 10, 2014, courtesy of Ameet Zaveri, Co-founder, sfbaywildlife.info

A Catocala aholibah
w C. andromache wellsi = andromache
C Catocala californica
C C. chelidonia occidentalis
C C. faustina cleopatra
E Catocala erichi = californica
F Catocala faustina
F C. hermia francisca
H Catocala hermia
H C. semirelicta hippolyta
z Catocala ilia zoe
I Catocala irene
J Catocala jessica
J Catocala johnsoniana
J Catocala junctura
M Catocala mcdunnoughi
N C. nevadensis = semirelicta
O Catocala ophelia
d Catocala piatrix dionyza
P C. pura = semirelicta
S C. stretchi = junctura
V Catocala verrilliana
b C. v. beutenmuller = verrilliana

C. faustina, C. ilia zoe, C.irene, C. junctura and C. verrilliana have been added to San Benito County, based on images from Paul Johnson, Wildlife Biologist, Pinnacles National Monument, and identification help from Wayne Whaley, Jeff Prill and Larry Gall.

Paul Johnson has also provided me with confirmations of C. aholibah, C. ilia zoe and C. verrilliana in Contra Costa County.

Owen Holt confirms ilia zoe and verrilliana from San Jose, Santa Clara County and indicates a June-July flight for verrilliana and a July flight for ilia zoe.

In July 2008, Owen sent me an image of what I am pretty sure is Catocala aholibah, also from Santa Clara County. I have added that species to the map, based on the image.

Southern California

A Catocala aholibah
A Catocala andromache
B Catocala benjamini mayhewi
C Catocala californica
C Catocala californiensis
C C. chelidonia chelidonia
C C. chelidonia occidentalis
C C. faustina cleopatra
E Catocala erichi = californica
F Catocala faustina
F C. hermia francisca
H Catocala hermia
H C. semirelicta hippolyta
z Catocala ilia zoe
I Catocala irene
J Catocala jessica
J Catocala johnsoniana
J Catocala junctura
M Catocala mcdunnoughi
N C. nevadensis = semirelicta
O Catocala ophelia
d Catocala piatrix dionyza
P C. pura = semirelicta
V Catocala ventura
V Catocala verrilliana
b C. v. beutenmuller = verrilliana

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Catocala piatrix dionyza, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California,
August 17, 2012, courtesy of Tim Bonebrake.


Little Yellow-Orange Underwings: Wingspans: 35-65mm

Catocala chelidonia; 45-50mm. Fw fuscous grey. Reniform, subreniform spots concolourous, with srf closed, sometimes lighter and brown. Pm line thin, distinct, two upper teeth slightly produced. Hw orangish. Black median band swollen near cell, angles 90 d toward, not to im. Fringes off-white opp. orange, grey opp. outer band. Some orange near apex inside thin, distinct sm line.

Catocala chelidonia occidentalis; 43-47mm. Fw charcoal to brownish gray, mottled with hoary scales. Am, pm lines black, modestly apparent. Subreniform spot whitish to yellow, usually visible. Hw: many basal black scales/hairs, especially along i. m.. Wider inner band, narrower pm band, consistently darker yellowish color. Anal spot separated from outer band.

Catocala benjamini mayhewi; 50 mm. Catocala benjamini reportedly flies as the nominate susbspecies in Arizona, Nevada, southern California and southern Utah. Catocala benjamini mayhewi flies in southern California. Catocala benjamini jumpi flies in the Kofa Mountains of Arizona. Catocala benjamini ute flies in southeastern Utah in the Balaneed Rock Area at elevations around 1610 m.

Catocala andromache. Fw usually liberally speckled with greenish scales. Catocala andromache sympatric with C. b. mayhewi along desert slopes of southern CA mountains. The two species are consistently separated by larger size, darker forewings, darker yellowish bands, and wider black bands of C. andromache.

Catocala mcdunnoughi.

The dorsal forewing is mostly brown, mottled with dark patches. The reniform spot is dark filled while the subreniform is closed and almost cream coloured.

Catocala johnsoniana.

This species has a conspicuous basal dash, an open subreniform spot, and longer teeth in the pmline as compared to C. californiensis. The hindwing inner black band is relatively short and thick, while the postmedial yellow band is proportionately wider than in most specimens of all other species in the C. delilah complex."

Catocala californiensis.

Basal dash lacking or very small.

Evenly ashy gray forewing with black lines. Am line thick, dark patch between reniform, subreniform, pm line usually conspicuous.

Catocala ilia zoe male; 65mm. Fw light grey, considerable brown scaling. Double reniform spot brown center, thinly outlined in black, widely outlined in white, thinly outlined in black. Sbrnfrm spot indented both sides, just above tailed extension, which may/may not be open. Aml black, distinct, pointed, triangular shaped indentation just above im. Pml darker along upper half. southern, western.

Catocala piatrix dionyza; 68-84mm. Fw has light-colored band/bar extending from large, pale brown subreniform spot along am line to costa. There is usually relatively dark area between reniform spot and pm line, wing veins tend to be dark and distinct there. Hw fringe lightly barred, lighter than deeper orange on rest of wing.

Catocala piatrix dionyza, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, August 17, 2012, Tim Bonebrake.
Catocala piatrix dionyza, Yuba City, Sutter County, June 14, 2013, Joel Garcia and family.

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

verrilliana; Verrill's Underwing; 45-60mm. Closed, subtriangular subreniform spot large, light in colour. Light patch runs from subreniform diagonally to costa. Dark area on basal side of aml, light patches between pml and subterminal line distinguish this species. Note orange hw fringe. July-September, oaks.

Catocala ophelia; Ophelia Underwing: 52mm: Fw dark grey, am/pm lines relatively smooth except for two jagged spikes in pm near apex. Considerable brown shading outside subterminal line. Hw pink-deep red, black median band constricted in center, ending before im. Black submarginal border is quite broad near apex. White fringe heavily checked. Southwestern

faustina cleopatra; 58 mm; Head and thorax dark bluish grey; abdomen brownish grey. Primaries dark bluish grey. Transverse lines, reniform and sub-reniform indistinct with some yellowish brown shading on upper surface. Orange to pinkish hw with relatively narrow bands, fringe (unbroken) white on exterior margin, grey near abdomen.

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 uniform, grey-brown/clay coloured, thin, contrasting medial lines. Distinct large double reniform spot. Large concolourous subrenifrom spot usually open. Hw pinkish red, relatively even, narrow black bands. Inner band ends before im. Fringe white, checked, "bleeding" along outer band, near apex.

Catocala hermia francisca; Francisca Underwing: 58-68mm; pinkish-red: subterminal line inwardly bordered with white. Dark areas along veins extending outwardly from reniform spot often give the impression of three small black dots. Subreniform "pork chop" shape, lighter than surrounding areas, extending as a line to pm line. Hw black median band relatively thick. Coastal California: Mendocino Co.

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

irene; Irene's Underwing; 65-75mm. Fw grey brown, darker upper half basal area, around reniform spot, indistinct arc near apex. Sbrnfrm spot lighter, open into pm area. Hw median black band pointed before reaching im. Outer band scalloped near a. a.. Probably southeast; poplars, willows

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

** 8821 semirelicta; Semirelict Underwing; 65-75mm
FW ground colour is whitish 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. Hw inner black bar usually terminates well before inner margin. The form "atala" has a forewing that is uniformly grey. Unijuga is usually larger and has less contrasting black lines. Inner black bar on unijuga usually reaches inner margin. June until October; poplars and willows

** semirelicta hippolyta; Hippolyta Underwing; 72-76mm. White border just inside subterminal line. Pm uniformly zig-zag except for inward projecting "tooth" near anal angle. Inner black band on scarlet hindwing very narrow, tapering to curved point, terminating well before im. Fringe white, continuous from apex to anal angle.

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

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 until October; poplars and willows

Catocala jessica; Jessica Underwing: 75mm: Fw is bluish grey with some brown scaling. Am line is irregular, meets i m almost at midpoint. Pm line has one upper tooth produced, second is much less so. Third is little more than a sharp point on smooth curve to fourth tooth, somewhat produced over opening of large subreniform spot. Reniform spot is double and dark in darker region of median area.

aholibah; 77-90mm: Fw is mix of grey and brown, with preponderance of brown in subterminal area. Double reniform spot has diffuse brown outline of inner oval. Subreniform spot is small, distinctly outlined in black, light coloured and does not connect to pm line. Upper two teeth of pm line are elongate and are followed by relatively smooth line til next tooth below the subreniform spot. Hindwing salmon or pinkish.

Catocala aholibah, Aromas, San Benito, County, August 9, 2012, Gary McDonald

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, probably N.& E; poplars and willows

** 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, probably N.& E; poplars and willows

** 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, probably N.& E; poplars and willows

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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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