Orange County, California
Tentative Checklist

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

This tentative pictoral checklist is a compilation of information from neigbouring counties. I have very few (only three: C. irene, C. mcdunnoughi, C. junctura) confirmed species in Orange County, California, but expect that all of the species depicted below are present. There are likely some present that I have not included.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Kevin Lentz who sent me the image of Catocala junctura, top of page. Kevin writes, "I have a very strong interest in invertebrates and I was quite shocked to find this beauty above my back door a few days ago. I live in Aliso Viejo, CA, which is just inland from Laguna Beach, CA.

"Do you have any ideas on what Catocala species it is?"

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.


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

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 mcdunnoughi, David Hawks

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.

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 sbtrmnl line. Hw pink-deep red, black median band constricted in center, ending before im. Black submarginal border 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 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.

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

Catocala irene, Santiago Canyon, August 8, 1943, Buckett & Bauer collection

** 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 junctura, Aliso Viejo, August 6, 2010, Kevin Lentz.
Catocala junctura, Laguna Hills, July 24, 2010, Kevin Lentz.

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; 80-90mm: 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.

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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

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments, giant silk moth cocoons. These cocoons are for sale winter and fall. Beautiful Saturniidae moths will emerge the following spring and summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.

Eggs of many North American Saturniidae species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done from within the US.

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