Catocala retecta

Catocala retecta
Grote, 1872

Catocala retecta, August 25, 2003, courtesy of Tom Murray copyright

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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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Catocala retecta (wingspan: 60-75mm; Hodges #8788) flies from southern Ontario and Quebec south through Maine, New Hampshire, to New Jersey, south through Tennessee to Georgia, and west to Arkansas, and Kansas, and north to Wisconsin.

It is also confirmed in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia.

John Himmelman took this picture, September 5, 2003, in Connecticut. He was surprised to find the moth on his shoe while checking the lights in the morning.

The light grey 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 medial line are elongated and dark.

Catocala retecta courtesy of John Himmelman, Connecticut, September 5, 2003.

The black antemedian line is prominent and is inwardly, narrowly lined with greyish white and then duplicated by a thinner black line. A basal black dash runs from the body to the center of the antemedian line, and then continues into the median area to the base of the open subreniform spot.

Note the light coloured, elongated and open subreniform spot which breaks the postmedian line. The center of the upper reniform spot is kidney-shaped and brown, outlined in black, then grey, then black again.

The two upper teeth of the pm line are elongate and dark-tipped. Subsequent teeth are shorter yet still prominent and dark tipped. There is a large wide tooth, underlined with a distinct black dash, below the interruption by the subreniform spot.

The subterminal area shows some brown scaling, becoming almost white as it meets the diffuse subterminal line. The terminal area is brownish-grey with wing veins accentuated with black just below the apex. The vein running below the subreniform spot is also accentuated with black in the subterminal area.

The off-white (bright in fresh individuals) hindwing fringe is only lightly checked along the wing veins.

Visit wing descriptions.

Catocala retecta, Windsor, Ontario, courtesy of Maurice Bottos.

Catocala retecta, Stillwater Township, Sussex County, New Jersey,
August 2, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Catocala retecta, lights, Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
August 24, 2006, courtesy of Tom Payne.

Note the light coloured, elongated and open subreniform spot which interrupts the dark, diffuse ark running through the center of the wing from the basal area (body-wing juncture) to the forewing apex. The center of the reniform spot is brown and there is a brown area just below the costa running to the inner margin just outside the pm line.

The off-white (bright in fresh individuals) hindwing fringe is only lightly checked along the wing veins.

Visit Catocala retecta, Londonderry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, August 6, 2006, courtesy of Deb Lievens.

Visit Catocala retecta, Pickens County, northern Georgia, August 23- September 17, 2009, courtesy of Aubrey Scott.

Visit Catocala retecta, Dryden, Tompkins County, New York, August 27-28, 2013, courtesy of Tom Nix.


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

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


Adults eclose from pupae at soil surface.


Catocala retecta 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.

Ron Nelson, teamed with Gabriel Larrabee, sent me the image below of Catocala retecta eggs from Milwaukee.

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

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Catocala retecta, posed scan on shagbark hickory by Bill Oehlke,
Pottersville, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, August 18, 2002.