Catocala jessica

Catocala jessica
Henry Edwards, 1877

Catocala jessica, Arizona, courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

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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

<bgsound src="moon.mid" LOOP=FOREVER>


Catocala jessica, the Jessica Underwing, (wingspan: 75mm), flies from Arizona to California.

Dr. Wayne H. Whaley reports them in Utah.

Specimens have also been recorded in British Columbia, Canada, and in Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

Catocala jessica Garden Cyn, Huachuca Mts, Cochise County, AZ.
Oct 16, 1998. L. Muller, collector, given to Kelly Richers by Ron Leuschner.

The forewing is bluish grey with some brown scaling. The am line is irregular and meets the inner margin almost at the midpoint. The pm line has one of the upper teeth produced, while the second is much less so. The third is little more than a sharp point on a smooth curve to the fourth tooth which is somewhat produced over the opening of the large subreniform spot. The reniform spot is double and dark in a darker region of the median area.

Catocala jessica, Washington Park, Gila County, Arizona,
75mm, June 12, 2010, 5800m, courtesy of Evan Rand.

The hindwing black medial band is relatively straight and narrow with a turn toward the inner margin, but it truncates quickly. The hindwing fringe is heavily checked along the wing veins.

Catocala jessica, John Peacock,
on my home computer only.


Catocala jessica are on the wing from June until August, possibly into October.

The Catocala jessica caterpillar feeds on poplars and willows.

Catocala babayaga = jessica, Arizona, courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

Catocala babayaga = jessica, Arizona, courtesy of Bruce Walsh.


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala jessica females emit an airbourne pheromone and males use their antennae to track the scent plume.

Catocala jessica, Olive Drive area, Bakersfield, Kern County, California, 400'.
June 15 1988, Kelly Richers collector, at houselight.


Eggs are deposited on tree bark in the fall and hatch the following spring.

The camouflage characteristics of the larvae are amazing.

Dr. Wayne H. Whaley writes, "Attached find two photos of Catocala jessica. I photographed these yesterday (5/2) on aspen. The caterpillar is 4 cm long and as you can see (or cannot see) it is highly camouflaged against aspen when resting.

"They flatten themselves against the branches as I have noticed most Catocala species do when they are not feeding. I will try to send 5th instar larvae photos later, and adults when these eclose. These two represent lateral and dorsal shots. I will send one more, a more distant shot in another email."

Catocala jessica, fourth instar, Utah, courtesy/copyright of Wayne Whaley.

Catocala jessica, fourth instar, Utah, courtesy/copyright of Wayne Whaley.

Catocala jessica, fourth instar, Utah, courtesy/copyright of Wayne Whaley.

Catocala jessica, fifth instar, Utah, courtesy/copyright of Wayne Whaley.

Catocala jessica, fifth instar, Utah, courtesy/copyright of Wayne Whaley.

Concerning the above images, Dr. Wayne H. Whaley writes, "Here are two photos taken 15 May of Catocala jessica 5th instar, one dorsal view and one lateral view resting on an aspen branch. This specimen is 6 cm long. As you see they flatten out nicely to blend more with the substrate. They are sometimes very hard to see when resting, and I have several times inadvertently placed my hand on one when removing a sock."

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.



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