Catocala ulalume

Catocala ulalume
kah-TOCK-uh-lah mm EWE-lah-loom
Strecker, 1878

Catocala ulalume Louisiana, courtesy of Vernon A. Brou.

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Noctuidae
Group: Noctuinina
Subfamily: Catocalinae
Genus: Catocala, Schrank, 1802


"Moon River"
copyright C. Odenkirk

<bgsound src="moon.mid" LOOP=FOREVER>


The Ulalume Underwing, Catocala ulalume (wingspan: 60-75mm), flies from Virginia, through Georgia, to Florida, west to Texas and eastern Oklahoma and north to Illinois and Michigan.

It is also confirmed in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee.

I expect it is also in Indiana, but I have no confirmed reports of it in Indiana. Scott Mescher has confirmed it for eastern Indiana, Jay County.

The forewing colouration is a mottled light to dark grey with no strongly contrasting lines, dashes or bars. At the inner margin the antemedial line ends with in a very light coloured crescent very close to the pm line. The open subrenifrom spot is also light coloured and "comma" shaped with a somewhat triangular and somewhat bulbous head.

The am line has a short, thin, slightly humped dark line through its midpoint. The hindwing is black and the fringe is pure white with thin, sharp (pointed) checking. Catocala ulalume, 65mm, courtesy of Jim Vargo.

Catocala ulalume, lights, Woodlawn, Montgomery County, Tennessee,
July 18, 2008, courtesy of Tom Payne, id by Bill Oehlke.

Strecker probably chose the species name from the Edgar Alan Poe poem, "Ulalume":

But were stopped by the door of a tomb--
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said:"What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?"
She replied:"Ulalume--Ulalume--
'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"

I have not Latinized the final "e" in ulalume as the name (rhymes with tomb) is taken directly from the poem.


Catocala ulalume flies as a single generation with moths on the wing from June to September. The Catocala ulalume caterpillar feeds on Carya alba and probably other Carya species.


Adults eclose from pupae formed under leaf litter.


Catocala ulalume 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.

Mature larvae

Image courtesy of

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 alba.......

Mockernut hickory/white hickory

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