Catocala badia coelebs

Catocala badia coelebs
Grote, 1874

The Old Maid Underwing, posed scan by Bill Oehlke
(Montague, P.E.I., August 10, 2002).

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 badia coelebs (wingspan: 54-56mm) flies from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, (rare) east to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and south into Maine (possibly to Connecticut). Records also exist for Wisconsin, Michigan and Vermont.

It has also been reported in Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York.

The fringe is gray on the lower wing from the brief orange dash at the hindwing apex to the anal angle. Tim Dyson image.

There is also the form phoebe Hulst, 1885.

Catocala badia coelebs, July 10, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala badia coelebs, July 12, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

The moth depicted above may have an early flight date as it was reared from an ovum supplied by Bill Oehlke to Tim Dyson.

Tim writes,

A man caught a moth, and placed it in a bag.
She layed for him six eggs, of which he kept three, and sent three to another.
The other kept them through the winter, and fed them when they hatched.
Two of them disappeared, and one grew and made a cocoon.
A little while later, he came out as a beautiful moth.
He was fed, and taken to a place that he would feel at home.
Off he flew into the evening twilight, free as the breeze.
Full circle,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,"

Catocala badia coelebs verso, Peterborough, Ontario,
August 5, 2016, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

In "Systematics of Moths in the Genus Catocala (Noctuidae). III. The Types of William H. Edwards, Augustus R. Grote and Achille Guinee", by Lawrence F. Gall and David C. Hawks, Journal of the Lepidopterists Society, Volume 56 Number 4, 9 December 2002. coelebs is placed as a subspecies of badia.


Catocala badia coelebs flies as a single generation with moths on the wing from late July to early September.

Moths come in to lights readily and also to bait.

The Catocala badia coelebs caterpillar shows a preference for Myrica gale (sweet gale).

Sweet gale is a deciduous, bushy shrub, growing to a heighth of four feet.

It is distinguished from other bog shrubs by its bluegreen leaf color, and unique leaf shape.

Leaves are toothed only at the end, which is rounded and wider than the leaf base.

Other reported hosts include Myrica pennsylvanica (Northern bayberry) and Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern).

Comptonia peregrina, courtesy of University of Connecticut Plant Database is depicted to the right.


Adults eclose from pupae formed under leaf litter.

The Catocala species generally spin a very flimsy and relatively large, loose cocoon, using a few strands of silk to bind leaf litter together. You can see the lighter silk, binding the dried sweetfern foliage, in the image below.

Catocala badia coelebs cocoon, July 7, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala badia coelebs pupa, courtesy of Tim Dyson.


Catocala badia coelebs 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.

I sent Tim Dyson a few eggs in the fall of 2004, and he rewarded me with what I believe are images of second (right), third and fourth (below) instar larvae.

Second instar courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Mature larvae attain lengths of 45 mm. They are dark brown dorsally with white dots and a contrasting white underbelly.

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.

Comptonia peregrina
Myrica gale
Myrica pennsylvanica.....

Sweet gale
Northern bayberry

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