Catocala maestosa

Catocala maestosa
kah-TOCK-uh-lahM mee-STOH-suh
Hulst, 1884

Catocala maestosa male courtesy of Vernon A. Brou.

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 maestosa, the Sad Underwing (wingspan: 78-98mm), flies from New York south to Florida and Alabama, west to Texas and eastern Oklahoma and north to Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota.

It has also been reported in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Maurice Bottos reports a new range into Canada for Catocala maestosa. He sent me pictures taken August 24 from his bait trail in Windsor, Essex County, southern Ontario. I have added maestosa to the Ontario list, and have posted the images to this file.

Maestosa is quite similar to, although usually larger than, vidua. Both have the dark arc from the costa, above the reniform spot, to the outer margin just below the apex. Maesotsa, however, lacks the dark bar, found on vidua, parallel to the inner margin.

The reniform spot is brown and there is brown shading just outside the postmedial line.

The hindwing fringe is white, narrow and heavily barred.

Image courtesy of Charles S. Lewallen

Catocala maestosa, Central Park, New York, courtesy of Marie Winn.

Catocala maestosa taken on bait trail, Windsor, Essex County, Ontario,
August 24, 2017, courtesy of Maurice Bottos.

Catocala maestosa taken on bait trail, Windsor, Essex County, Ontario,
August 24, 2017, courtesy of Maurice Bottos.


Catocala maestosa are usually on the wing from July to October.

In Mississippi this moth has been taken from April to November, probably as a single brood with a very haphazard emergence pattern. The Catocala maestosa caterpillar feeds on hickories, pecans and walnuts.

Catocala maestosa on Bur Oak, Leon River, Coryell County, Texas,
August 5, 2009, courtesy of Eric Runfeldt.

Eric Runfeldt observes, "Yesterday, 05 Aug, I came across another large grouping, (more than 30), of these same moths in the river bottom of the same lake but at the other end. Approx. 25 miles from the first group. This time I had a better idea what to look for and although I could not get photos of the open wings I did see the black under wings with the white outline.

"So far all of my sightings have been in Bell county, Texas on the creeks/river bottom of Belton Lake.

"I noticed yesterday that not long after landing these fold their antennae along their wingline."

Eric added on the following day, "After looking around I noticed that although Pecan trees, (Carya illinoinensis), were scattered among the trees, the major number of Sad Wing's were resting on Bur Oaks, (Quercus macrocarpa), and some were resting on Cottonwood trees, (Populus deltoides).

"I did not see any on Elm, (Ulmus rubra), or Sugarberry, (Celtis laevigata), trees also in the area, they would fly right by any tree less than 24in. in diameter. A few were resting 5-7ft from the ground, some were within 6 inches of the ground and I saw none over 8ft. Even after being flushed they returned to less than 6ft, I don't believe I was ever allowed within 3ft before they flushed. Almost all were hanging nose down and returned to that postion after flushing and landing. Most were on the shade side of the tree, a few on the brighter side, but none in full sun."


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.

Visit Catocala maestosa, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, September 24, 2011, courtesy of Stephen Kloiber via Curt Lehman, BAMONA rep.

Visit Catocala maestosa, Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, August 1, 2013, Jeff Trahan.


Catocala maestosa 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.

Catocala maestosa larva, New Braunfels, Texas, May 31, 2007,
courtesy of Jason Fowler, tentative id by Larry Gall.

Of the larval image above, Dr.Gall indicates it is most likely Catocala maestosa (most likely) or Catocala neogama.

Tammy Mauldin of Jefferson County, Alabama, sent the following image for identification. She found it under a pecan tree, indicating a length between 2.5 and 3 inches.

Catocala maestosa, Jefferson County, Alabama, May 2009, courtesy of Tammy Mauldin.

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 aquatica
Carya illinoinensis.....
Juglans nigra

Water hickory
Black walnut

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