Catocala illecta

Catocala illecta
Walker, [1858]

Catocala illecta, Liberty, Texas,
May 14, 2015, courtesy of Marcus Stuart.

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Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.


Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Noctuidae
Group: Noctuinina
Subfamily: Catocalinae
Genus: Catocala, Schrank, 1802


"Moon River"
copyright C. Odenkirk

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Catocala illecta, the Magdalen Underwing, (wingspan: 60-70mm) flies from Southwestern Ontario south to Tennessee and South Carolina and west and south to Texas and north through Oklahoma and Kansas to Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

It has also been reported in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Catocala illecta courtesy of James K. Adams.

The forewing pattern and colouration is much like that of concumbens, pale grey with faint black lines.

Hindwings are light yellow to orange and the irregular inner black band terminates well before the inner margin.

The common name comes from a synonym for illecta, Catocala magdalena.

Catocala illecta Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility


Catocala illecta are usually on the wing from May to July.

The Catocala illecta caterpillar shows a preference for honey locust and lead plant.

Catocala illecta Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
taken at light, June 20, 2008, courtesy of Tom Payne.

Visit Tom Payne, Tennessee Catocala Collection.


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala illecta 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.

Larvae often feed at night and ascend and descend tree trunks in the morning and evening, respectively, to hide among leaf litter and weeds at the base of the tree.

Larva to the right was feeding on honey locust, Kalamazoo, Michigan, courtesy of Harry King.

Catocala illecta fifth instar, Kalamazoo, Michigan, courtesy of Harry King.

Read fascintaing account: Collecting Catocala illecta Larvae Kalamazoo, Michigan, Harry King

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.

Amorpha canescens
Gleditsia triacanthos.......
Robinia pseudoacacia

Lead plant
Honey locust
Black locust/False acacia

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