Catocala californiensis
Brower, 1976

Catocala californiensis, courtesy of David Hawks.

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 californiensis, the Ashy-gray Underwing, (wingspan: mm) flies in southern California along the desert-facing slopes of the Peninsular and Transverse Ranges to the southeastern edge of the Coast Ranges in Santa Barbara County. It has also been reported in Ventura, Kern, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles counties.

In 2016 Kons and Borth described Catocala ventura from San Luis obispo, ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, replacing californiensis in those counties. The northwestern-most populations represent a distinctive new subspecies (Hawks, in prep.).

"Catocala californiensis is most similar to C. johnsoniana in forewing coloration, and to C. benjamini mayhewi in hindwing coloration. However, on the forewing, C. johnsoniana has a conspicuous basal dash (lacking or very small in C. californiensis), and longer teeth in the postmedial line with a shorter and wider inner hindwing black band than in C. californiensis." David Hawks.

Look for an evenly ashy gray forewing with black lines. The am line is thick, and the dark patch between reniform, subreniform, and pm line is usually conspicuous.


Catocala californiensis are usually on the wing from mid June until late August.

"Larvae feed on Quercus cornelius-mulleri at the San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego County localities, and they probably feed on Q. turbinella at the Los Angeles, Kern, Santa Barbara, and Ventura county localities." David Hawks.


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala californiensis 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.

Quercus cornelius-mulleri .......
Quercus turbinella

Mullers Scrub Oak
Shrub Live Oak

Return to Main Catocala Index

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Although the following species are presented on the BOLD website as californiensis, they are the more recently described Catocala ventura.

Catocala californiensis Ventura County, California, All Leps Barcode of Life.

Catocala californiensis Ventura County, California, All Leps Barcode of Life.

Catocala californiensis Ventura County, California, All Leps Barcode of Life.

Visit Catocala delilah Species Complex; Author: David Hawks.

Visit California Catocala immatures