Catocala meskei

Catocala meskei
kah-TOCK-uh-lahMMES-kee-eye
Grote, 1873


Catocala meskei, North Dakota, courtesy of Gerald Fauske.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at oehlkew@islandtelecom.com
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.

TAXONOMY:

Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae, Leach, [1815]
Subfamily: Erebinae, Leach, [1815]
Tribe: Catocalini, Boisduval, [1828]
Genus: Catocala, Schrank, 1802

DISTRIBUTION:

Catocala meskei, Meske's Underwing (wingspan: 65-75mm) flies in southern Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and possibly extreme southeastern British Columbia), and in the northern United States east of the Rockies at least to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

It is also reported from Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming.

Catocala meskei female, August 12, 1994,
Longueuil, Quebec, courtesy of Pierre Legault.

Catocala meskei, Mason, Ingham County, Michigan,
bait trail, July 10, 1996, courtesy of Harry King.

Catocala meskei, 70mm, Worthington, Nobles County, Minnesota,
September 20, 2008, courtesy of Tom Middagh, id confirmed by Mo Nielsen.

Visit Catocala meskei, August 2008, Regina, Saskatchewan, courtesy of Tim Taylor.

Visit Catocala meskei, August 2009, Regina, Saskatchewan, courtesy of Tim Taylor.

Visit Catocala meskei, July 2010, Regina, Saskatchewan, courtesy of Tim Taylor.

Visit Catocala meskei, male and female, recto and verso, Portland, Jay County, Indiana, Scott Mescher, with additional descriptive notes and a plate series from Michigan, courtesy of Harry Dale King.

Visit Catocala meskei series plate, Regina, Saskatchewan, courtesy of Tim Taylor, ids by Larry Gall.

Visit Catocala meskei series plates (by gender, and size comparison), Regina, Saskatchewan, December 2010, courtesy of Tim Taylor, ids by Larry Gall.

Catocala meskei in flight, Peterborough, Ontario,
July 2016, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala meskei, Peterborough, Ontario,
2016, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala meskei, Peterborough, Ontario,
2016, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

The forewings are less distinctly marked compared to unijuga, and there is some red-orange at the hindwing apex and just inside the fringe along the outer margin in meskei that is lacking in unijuga.

The forewing subreniform spot is opened or connected to the postmedian line. The hindwing postmedian band is nearly straight, turned in and tapering near the anal angle.

Catocala meskei, Roseville, Minnesota, August 9, 2005,
nectaring on Liatris spicata, courtesy of Duane McDowell.

It is sometimes very difficult to differentiate Catocala species, especially when hindwings and ventral surfaces cannot be examined. Dave Hawks, Larry Gall, Gabriel Larrabee and I all feel that the above specimen is Catocala meskei.

The ventral hind wing may be without a separate discal lunule or has a faint one as in some of the images below.

The form "krombeini" is the melanic version with a uniformly blackish forewing. This form seems to have more black in the hindwing ventral cell.

Catocala meskei form krombeini, Regina, Saskatchewan,
74mm, August 12, 2009, courtesy of Tim Taylor, id by Larry Gall.

Catocala meskei form krombeini (verso), Regina, Saskatchewan,
74mm, August 12, 2009, courtesy of Tim Taylor, id by Larry Gall.

Catocala meskei female, verso, courtesy of Pierre Legault.

Catocala meskei (verso), Mason, Ingham County, Michigan,
bait trail, July 10, 1996, courtesy of Harry King.

Catocala meskei (verso), 70mm, Worthington, Nobles County, Minnesota,
September 20, 2008, courtesy of Tom Middagh, id confirmed by Mo Nielsen.

FLIGHT TIMES AND PREFERRED FOOD PLANTS:

Catocala meskei flies as a single generation with moths on the wing from May into June, and apparently into August, based on image below, but I am not positive on this id.

Catocala meskei, Peterborough, Ontario, August 16, 2004, courtesy of Tim Dyson copyright.

The Catocala meskei caterpillar feeds on poplars and willows.

ECLOSION:

Adults eclose from pupae formed under leaf litter.

SCENTING AND MATING:

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

EGGS, CATERPILLARS, COCOONS, AND PUPAE:

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

Mature larvae

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.

Populus grandidenta .......
Salix

Large-toothed/Bigtoothed Aspen
Willow

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Catocala comparison Plate, Peterborough, Ontario,
courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Note extensive red scaling on hindwing in meskei. Discal lunule is weak in meskei.

Note very dentate nature of inner edge of outer black band on both the forewing and hindwing of parta. The discal lunule is also very weak in parta, compared to other similar species.