Catocala lacrymosa

Catocala lacrymosa
kah-TOCK-uh-lahM lack-rih-MOH-suh
Guenee, 1852

Catocala lacrymosa Georgia, courtesy of Troy Bartlett .

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


"Moon River"
copyright C. Odenkirk

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The Tearful Underwing, Catocala lacrymosa (wingspan: 60-82mm), flies from Massachusetts ?? and Connecticut ?? south to Florida, west to Texas and eastern Oklahoma and north to Illinois and Michigan and into southern Ontario. Tom Middagh reports them from as far west as Minnesota.

Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In Canada, it has been seen in Ontario.

The forewing is highly variable with a mixture of black, brown (wing tips and outside postmedial line) and dark grey scaling. There are usually whitish crescents, visible in Troy Bartlett image, right, along the inner margin at the base of the antemedial and postmedial lines.

The hindwings are black with white checkered fringe, turning black near the anal angle.

The variability of the forewings and two forms are depicted in the James K. Adams specimens below. Note the dark fringe at the anal angle distinguishing lacrymosa from ulalume.

"evelina" French, 1881; bottom left, has wide black band along inner margin of forewing

"zelica" French, 1881; not shown, black basal patch and st line

"paulina" Henry Edwards, 1880; bottom right, forewing black out to pale st band

"albomarginata" Cassino, 1917, form


Catocala lacrymosa flies as a single generation with moths on the wing from July into early September. The Catocala lacrymosa caterpillar feeds on hickories (Carya) species.

Catocala lacrymosa form paulina, lights, Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
August 26, 2008, courtesy of Tom Payne.

Catocala lacrymosa form paulina, Henderson, Chester County, Tennessee,
October 10, 2011, courtesy of Ken Childs.


Adults eclose from pupae formed under leaf litter.

Catocala lacrymosa form evelina, lights, Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
September 2, 2008, courtesy of Tom Payne.


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

Catocala lacrymosa, bait, Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
August 20, 2008, courtesy of Tom Payne.

Catocala lacrymosa form zelica, Haynes Bottom WMA,
Dotsonville, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
July 5, 2012, courtesy of Tom Payne.


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

Catocala lacrymosa penultimate instar, courtesy of James Adams.

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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