Catocala luctuosa

Catocala luctuosa
Hulst, 1884

Catocala luctuosa, Indiana, wingspan: 70mm, courtesy of Jim Vargo copyright.
Bristol (Elkhart County), Indiana, August 13, 1995, leg:J.Vargo

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
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 luctuosa (wingspan: 70 mm) flies from Indiana to South Carolina, and probably has a more extensive range.

This species has also been reported in Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin

In Canada it has been reported in the province of Ontario.

The light grey (yellowish tint) forewing is clearly marked with a basal dash that continues with another dash through the antemedial line, followed by another anal dash almost forming a bar parallel to the inner margin.
The hindwing fringe is white and is only lightly barred at the veins.
The "teeth" in the forewing postmedial line are elongated and dark, continuing a dark dar emanating from the outer margin just below the apex.

Catocala luctuosa, courtesy of James K. Adams.

The moth is almost identical to Catocala retecta and was at one time considered a subspecies of retecta. Catocala luctuosa is a brighter, larger species. The upper half of the basal area, near the costa, is off-white, almost white. The subreniform spot is white, elongated and open toward the outer margin. The inner portion of the reniform spot is brown.

Note the very interesting pattern on the thorax of Jim Vargo's image.

Catocala luctuosa, Amherst, Hampshire County, Massachusetts,
September 2, 2011, courtesy of Joshua S. Rose,
tentative id by Bill Oehlke.

I have entered a tentative id for the specimen, above, largely based on shape of very white subreniform spot, as well as others markings (arc, dashes, bar), consistent with luctuosa.


Catocala luctuosa are on the wing from July to October. Peak flight is probably in August-September in the northern portions of range.

The Catocala luctuosa caterpillar probably feeds on Juglans and Carya species: pecan and hickories.

Jim Vargo, however, reports that the specimen at the top of the page was taken in a dry oak habitat near his home in Mishawaka, Indiana.


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala luctuosa 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.

Carya glabra
Carya illinoinensis.......
Carya ovata
juglans nigra

Pignut hickory
Shagbark hickory
Black walnut

This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae/Catocala Sites", contact Bill.

Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.

Enjoy one of nature's wonderments: Live Saturniidae (Giant Silkmoth) cocoons.

To show appreciation for this site, click on the flashing
butterfly to the left, a link to many worldwide insect sites.

Return to Canadian Index

Return to Main Index