Catocala subnata

Catocala subnata
Grote, 1864

The Youthful Underwing, courtesy of James K. Adams.

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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 Catocala subnata moth (wingspan: 75-90mm) flies from Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to Nova Scotia, Canada, and south through Maine and Connecticut to North Carolina and west to Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas unconfirmed ??, then north to Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan.

It has also been reported in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

The forewings are greyish white with blue-grey and light brown scales.

Catocala subnata, Peterborough, Ontario, August 2, 2006, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala subnata usually have hindwings that are a brighter yellow than those of neogama. Neogama usually have a basal dash absent in male subnata, but present in females.

Magnification of hind tibia helps to distinguish the two species:

subnata: cylindrical hind tibia
neogama: compressed or flattened hind tibia

subnata: ventral surface of tibia densely covered with evenly distributed spines.
neogama: ventral surface of tibia sparsely covered with sporadic spines.

Tim's image of this specimen, feeding on a rotting apple, clearly shows the dense covering of spines.

Catocala subnata, bait trail, Mason, Ingham County, Michigan,
September 1, 1996, courtesy of Harry King.

Catocala subnata female, courtesy of Pierre Legault.

My first impression of the above specimen was that of C. neogama, probably due to the heavier markings and basal dash, but C. subnata females have the basal dash and generally are more strongly marked than males. Also note the uniformly pale, elongated and open subreniform spot which is characteristic of subnata.

The abdomen is bright ochre yellow, in strong contrast to the grey thorax. Pierre Legault assures me the above specimen in C. subnata based on examination of tibia.

Tim Dyson image, right, also displays those same characters.

Catocala subnata, male and female left, courtesy of Pierre Legault;
Catocala neogama, females right, Montreal, Quebec, August 2002

Note the general overall darker appearance of C. neogama as well as the slightly smaller size and the termination of the hindwing median band.

Visit C. neogama / C. subnata / C. piatrix comparison.


Catocala subnata flies as a single generation with moths on the wing from July to September.

Moths come in to lights readily and also to bait.

The Catocala subnata caterpillar show a preference for black walnut, butternut and hickory.

Catocala cerogama and Catocala subnata at bait, August 2, 2006,
Peterborough, Ontrio, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Catocala subnata at "apple on a stick", August 2, 2006,
Peterborough, Ontrio, courtesy of Tim Dyson.


Adults eclose from pupae formed under leaf litter.


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


Eggs are deposited on bush bark in the fall and hatch the following spring. The Catocala subnata caterpillar show a preference for black walnut, butternut and hickory.

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 cordiformis.....
Juglans cinerea
Juglans nigra

Bitternut hickory
Black walnut

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Visit Harry King, Michigan Catocala Collection.

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