La Salle County Catocala

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Bill Garthe who has been sending me images of and sighting data for Catocala species recorded in La Salle County in northeastern Illinois.

I, William Oehlke, have taken Bill Garthe's recordings and combined them with my own interpolations, based on records for nearby counties and general distribution data, to create the following preliminary checklist for La Salle County. I am sure there are some omissions. Please send images and data to Bill Oehlke to help improve the scope of this page.

Those species followed by my intitials are unconfirmed but expected. Those species followed by "BG" are confirmed by Bill Garthe. Those species without initial attachments are confirmed by Database of Illinois Lepidoptera II.

I have arranged them in groups/order, based on size, hindwing colouration, general similarity in an effort to facilitate identification. Some species can be very difficult to determine, and there is often considerable variation even in a single species.

Little Yellow-Orange Underwings: Wingspans: 35-50mm

**8878 Catocala amica WO; Girlfriend; wingspan: 35-40mm
The black postmedian band is absent from the dorsal (upper) surface of the hindwing, but it is present on the ventral surface. Moths come in to lights and to bait.
Catocala amica lineella is sometimes treated as a subspecies; sometimes as a distinct species.

John Himmelman image.

** 8874 Catocala minuta WO; Little Underwing, 35-45mm. Fw generally grey-brown with greatly widened (near costa only), white, st line. Hw outer black band unbroken, inner band forms complete loop with considerable brown scaling along im. Several forms: "eureka": blackish area between am/pm lines; "hiseri": dull grey fw with very faint markings; "mellitula": blackish basal patch from costa to im; "obliterata": melanic form, almost completely black fw; "parvula": broad dark patch along fw im.

** 8876 Catocala micronympha; WO; Little Nymph; wingspan 35-50mm
The usual specimens have grey forewings shaded with green, brown, black and white tints. There is usually a darkened band passing from the costa through the reniform spot to the outer margin.
There is high variability with this species.
John Himmelman image.

Catocala mira WO/BG; Wonderful Underwing, 40-50mm. Fw pale basal area dstinguishes mira from blandula (dark brown) and crataegi (black). Fw lacks dark contrasting lines of crataegi and blandula. Considerable brown in subterminal area; subreniform spot very conspicuous, usually brown. Light area runs obliquely from costa to subreniform spot. Noticeable space along im between am and pm lines. Hw: deep orange; complete inner black band. Outer black band unbroken Tim Dyson image. BG: LaSalle: July

** 8858 Catocala crataegi WO; Hawthorn Underwing, 40-50mm.
Determination based on dark (black) shading in fw basal area continuing along ima to anal angle and brown shading beyond postmedial line. Definite greenish cast to median area. The lower wing has the outer black band, broken near the anal angle, distinguishing crataegi from blandula. Tim Dyson image.

** 8841 Catocala abbreviatella BG; Abbreviated Underwing; 40-50mm. Fw uniformly colored with narrow black lines on anterior half. Brown reniform spot ringed with black. Hw outer black band abbreviated, then continued with a dot. Inner black band terminates well before im. Similar species: Catocala nuptialis has solid black reniform spot. C. whitneyi has broad dark triangles in middle of forewing. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.

** 8842 Catocala nuptialis WO; Maried Underwing, wingspan 40-50mm.
The reniform spot is very dark, black or almost black on an otherwise faintly marked, almost uniformly grey forewing. The outer black margin of the hindwing is unbroken, but is indented near the anal angle.

Jim Vargo image.

** 8871 Catocala dulciola WO; Quiet or Sweet Underwing, wingspan: 40-45mm
A double black antemedial line (inner line broken only near the costa) with other lines obscure distinguishes dulciola. There is also a dark basal dash on an otherwise plain, light grey forewing.
John Glaser image.

** 8864 Catocala grynea WO/BG; Woody Underwing, wingspan: 40-50mm
The forewing is a dull greenish grey with orangey-brown shading along the inner margin. The antemedial, median and postmedial lines are quite faint.
Praeclara is somewhat similar but has a break in the brown shading between the am and pm lines. Praeclara also has a paler orange hindwing color.
Tim Dyson image. BG: LaSalle: July

Midsized Orange-Salmon-Red-Scarlet Underwings: Wingspans: 50-72mm

** 8857 Catocala ultronia BG; Ultronia Underwing, wingspan: 50-63mm.
The forewings are typically gray-brown, with a distinct and very dark inner margin and a characteristic light brown patch, underscored by a very dark arc, near the wingtip.
There can be considerable variation from one specimen to the next. Underwings can be yellow to orange to salmon.

Catocala ultronia, the Ultronia Underwing, wingspan: 50-63mm.
There is extensive orange-salmon colouration on the ventral surface of the hindwings and there is a dark discal lunule.
The ventral surface of the forewings also has a generous suffusion of orange-salmon scales in the lower half of the median area.
Joe Garris photo. BG: LaSalle: July

#8778 Catocala habilis; ILII; 55-65mm
Note large "M" on thorax and "pork chop" shaped, light coloured subreniform spot that becomes very dark in its constriction at juncture with pml. Pml line narrow but dark, distinct, outwardly lined with narrow suffusion of white scales, followed by broader band of brown, then another broader suffusion of white to very regular dentation of subterminal line. Significant "bleeding" of yellow-orange to salmon scales into hw fringes. Large reniform spot has brown center, faintly edged with black, then white, then black again. Joe Garris image. Bill Garthe: LaSalle: August

#8795 Catocala palaeogama ; WO; 60-70mm
Subreniform spot closed, does not approach pm line, smaller than in C. habilis. All forms have characteristic orange, heavily barred fringe to apex, irregular bands on hindwings. Hw basal median area heavily suffused with dark brown to black scales. Dark bar in outer half of median area, paralleling im halfway between inner margin and light, closed subreniform spot. Joe Garris photo.

#8795 Catocala palaeogama form phalanga; WO; 60-70mm.
In this form, fw basal area and subterminal area are very dark against much lighter background.
Dark bar in outer half of median area, paralleling inner margin halfway between inner margin and light, closed subreniform spot is especially evident. Joe Garris image. BG: LaSalle: Aug.

** 8770 Catocala innubens ; Betrothed; 55-72mm

Fw mottled with white, grey and brown, and subrenifrom spot tends to be lighter in colour, although sometimes obscured by indistinct blackish bar which runs from middle of basal/thorax connection to just below much lighter apex at the outer margin.
Jim Vargo image. BG: LaSalle: Aug.

** 8851 Catocala coccinata, WO; Scarlet; 57-70mm: Usually diffuse basal and anal dashes on otherwise light grey, mottled forewing. Hindwing fringe white (often with some salmon scaling) and heavily checked. "Tooth" just below pair of very elongated "teeth" is much reduced, quite rounded, usually allowing considerable room for lighter patch of scales. Dark bar crosses thorax. Reniform spot tends be to light, often with greenish cast.

** 8840 Catocala illecta WO; Magdalen Underwing, 60-70mm
Fw pattern and colouration much like that of concumbens, pale grey with faint black lines.
Hws light yellow, irregular inner black band terminates well before inner margin. James K. Adams image.

Catocala briseis; Briseis; wingspan 60-70mm; BG. Fws predominantly mottled dark-grey-brown with some lighter areas 1) between pm and subterminal lines, 2) at very base of am and pm lines along inner margin, and 3) over subreniform spot running diagonally toward costa. Pm lines have relativley short, blunt teeth. Hw fringe white and unbroken and inner black band (fairly even) reaches im. Tim Dyson image.

Solid Black Underwings: Smallest to Largest, Similar Species Paired

** 8781 judith; BG; Judith's; 45-55mm. Smaller "black" underwings. Fw: uniform light grey with thin and only slightly darkened antemedial, median and pm lines. No darkened dashes (slight anal dash) or transverse lines. Reniform area is slightly darkened while area just before subterminal line is a bit lighter. Note absence of hw white fringe. Joe Garris photo. BG: LaSalle: Sept.

** 8773 Catocala epione WO; Epione Underwing, wingspan: 55-65mm

The pm line is squared and has a brown band and then a light band just outside the line.

The hindwing is black with pure white fringe with no barring.

John Himmelman image.

** 8782 Catocala flebilis WO; Mournful, 54-65mm. Diffuse black band running from basal area to om just below the apex, interrupted by pale grey subreniform spot.Reniform spot filled with brown; additional brown outside the postmedial line. No anal dash as there is in angusi. Hws have white fringe.

** 8783 Catocala angusi WO; Angus' Underwing, 60-74mm; Dark dashes/streaks in basal area and anal area distinguish this species. Reniform spot has light brown filling. Hw fringe black except for white region at apex. Form lucetta has broad black band from basal area to om, broken by reniform and subreniform spots.

Catocala dejecta WO; Dejected; 56-73mm. Pale grey patch from reniform and subreniform juncture to costal margin is diagnostic. Note open, light "pork chop" shape of subreniform spot. Two "teeth" in pm line above subreniform spot are relatively short and blunt. Upper portion of am line thick, black; lower half has light rounded lobes outlined in black. Hw fringe white with black wing veins extending like "teeth".

Catocala retecta; BG; 60-75mm
Note light coloured, elongated and open subreniform spot which interrupts dark, diffuse ark running through center of wing from basal area (body-wing juncture) to fw apex. Center of reniform spot brown, brown area just below costa running to im just outside pm line. Off-white hw fringe only lightly checked along wing veins. Joe Garris image. BG: LaSalle: Aug.-Sept.

** 8784 obscura; WO/BG; Obscure; 60-72mm. Dull, grey forewings, usually void of any significant dashes or streaks, providing for easy identification. Am, median and postmedial lines of obscura faint; subterminal line region only slightly paler than rest of forewing.
The hindwing fringe is off-white and lightly checked on the veins. Joe Garris photo. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

Catocala residua; WO; Residua; 60-73mm. Distinguished from obscura by grey hw fringe of residua. Obscura has white to off-white fringe; less common in northern portions of its range. Fw subterminal line/area of Catocala residua tends to be pale as is its open, elongated subreniform spot. Like C. obscura, otherwise devoid of significant markings except for hint of dark bar running from basal area through reniform spot to om just below apex. Joe Garris image.

** 8794 Catocala lacrymosa WO; Tearful Underwing, 60-82mm. Fw highly variable with mixture of black, brown (wing tips and outside pm line) and dark grey scaling. Usually whitish crescents, along inner margin at base of the antemedial and postmedial lines. Hws black with white checkered fringe, turning black near the anal angle.

** 8791 Catocala insolabilis BG; Inconsolable, 65-75mm Fw light grey with blackish shading along im. Am and pm lines thin. Hw fringe very narrow and grey, whiter toward apex. Ventral surface clearly distinguishes insolabis, being almost completely black except for some white in basal area. Vernon A. Brou image. BG: LaSalle: July

** 8780 Catocala robinsoni BG, 70-80mm; Robinson's Underwing. Fw: plain pale. Female has basal dash, absent in male. Currata, is female form, having weak basal dash. Rare form missouriensis, has dark, broad bar extending from basal area to om just below apex. Lighter grey rnfm and subrnfm spots break bar in missouriensis. White fringe on hws; bands on ventral surface are prominent. BG: LaSalle: Sept.

** 8792 Catocala vidua BG; Widow; 70-80mm. Fw light grey. Distinct dark arc running through top of reniform spot to just below apex. Heavy, dark anal and basal dashes, connecting to dark median bar, running parallel to inner margin. Am line thick, black in its upper half. Reniform spot consists of two almost concentric irregular ovals. Subreniform spot light, open, but constricted as it meets pml. Hw black with broad, white fringe, only lightly interrupted. Marie Winn image. BG: LaSalle: Aug.-Sept.

** 8793 Catocala maestosa WO/BG, Sad Underwing, 78-98mm. Maesotsa quite similar to, although usually larger than, vidua. Both have dark arc from costa, above reniform spot, to the outer margin just below apex. Maesotsa, however, lacks dark bar, found on vidua, parallel to inner margin. Reniform spot brown, brown shading just outside postmedial line. Hw fringe is white, narrow and heavily barred. BG: LaSalle: Aug.

Large Black Underwings (Banded): Wingspans: 70-80mm

** 8803 Catocala relicta BG; Forsaken, White, Relict; 70-80mm. Considerable variation with regard to black/white concentrations on the forewings. Form clara (depicted), has the basal and subterminal areas predominantly white; the form phrynia, is evenly dusted with grey over entire forewing. Typical specimens have basal and subterminal areas filled with blackish scales. Hws black with brilliant even white inner band and white fringe, are also distinctive. BG: LaSalle: Sept.

** 8802 Catocala cerogama BG; Yellow-Banded; 70-80mm. There are several different forms. Pm line is distinct, dark and has elongate pair of projections. Pm and am lines meet inner margin in relative proximity. Closed subreniform spot it lighter than surrounding areas, shaped a bit like an arrowhead with point toward body. Hws distinctive. Jean-Benoît Duval image. BG: LaSalle: Aug-Sept.

Large Orange-Salmon Underwings: Wingspans: 65mm, usually 70-95mm

** 8801 Catocala ilia; BG; Ilia; 65-82mm. Several different forms; most have characteristic white area in and around reniform spot. Diffuse dark arc running from this spot to just below outer apex. Except in worn specimens and darkest forms, white dots near outer margin of forewing are in character with overall "contrasting" appearance of this moth. Joe Garris image. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.

** 8772 Catocala consors WO; Consort, 70mm plus. Fw: irregular am and pm narrow black lines. Dark patch outside the reniform and subreniform spots. The orange-yellow hindwing pm band tends to be narrow and irregularly zigzagged. Sometimes the band is wider and slightly less irregular.

** 8771 Catocala piatrix BG; Penitent, 68-84mm. The forewing has a light-colored band/bar extending from the subreniform spot along the am line to the costa.

The fringe of the hindwing is lightly barred and is lighter in color than the deeper orange on the rest of wing. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

Catocala junctura; Joined Underwing; 67-85mm. Fw usually dark brownish-gray to evenly powdered blue-grey w/o significant markings. Doubled reniform spot often obscure. Thin, slightly darker am, pm lines run from costa to im, not widely spaced at im. Hw salmon or orange-pink with narrow inner black band that turns in sharply but does not meet dark-haired im, distinguishing it from unijuga. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

** 8805 unijuga; BG; Once-married; 70-90mm. Fairly wide black inner band (almost reaching inner margin) in hindwing and very distinctive patterning in forewing. Meskei tend to have narrower band and dustier (less distinct) looking forewing. Semirelicta tend to have inner bands that terminate well before im. Also note very white fringe on both forewings and hindwings.
Carroll Rudy image. BG: LaSalle: Aug.

** 8806 Catocala parta BG; Mother Underwing, 70-85mm. Black dashes in basal, subapical and anal areas help to identify this species. Hws may be yellow to yellowish-orange but more often are salmon-red. Note the face-head-like markings on the thorax. In the hindwing, the first (nearest the apex) black protrusion into the white fringe is "noticeably" larger than the others.

** 8798 Catocala neogama; BG; 70-85mm.> Note the brown head and thorax and larger size as compared to C. palaeogama. Neogama specimens tend to be slightly smaller than subnata, and have darker grey brown fws with more pronounced markings. Examination of hind tibia is sometimes needed for identification. Those of neogama tend to be flattened, unevenly and sparsely spined while tibia of subnata are cylindrical with spines dense and uniform in distribution. Joe Garris photo. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

** 8797 Catocala subnata BG; Youthful Underwing, 75-90mm. Fws greyish white with blue-grey and light brown scales. Hws usually brighter yellow than those of neogama. Neogama usually have basal dash; absent in male subnata, but present in females. Magnification of hind tibia helps to distinguish two species: subnata: cylindrical; neogama: compressed or flattened. subnata: ventral surface densely covered with evenly distributed spines; neogama: ventral surface sparsely covered with sporadic spines. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

** 8796 Catocala nebulosa BG; Clouded; 75-86mm. Prominent dark brown upper-half-basal patch extends to, ends at am line. Apical area tends to be brown, much darker than median area, not as dark as basal patch. Anal angle also has darker brown scaling. Pm line is distinct near costa and inner margin, but becomes weak between the two. It meets inner margin in relative close proximity to am line. Closed subreniform spot is large and connects to the pm line via a thin line. BG: LaSalle: Aug.-Sept.

Large Pink Underwings: Wingspans: 70-95mm

** 8834 Catocala amatrix BG; Sweetheart; 75-95mm. Fw usually has dark diffuse bar running from body to just below apex. Large, light, open subreniform spot interrupts bar. Thorax grey, marked with dark brown prothoracic collar followed almost immediately by dark bar. Abdomen light brown. Hws pink to salmony-pink. White fringe heavily checked with black. Black median band relatively narrow, terminates well before im. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

** 8832 Catocala cara BG; Darling; 70-85mm. Note deep maroon almost purple cast to fws, mixed with very pale green. Lower half of am and pm lines barely visible. No distinctive bars or dashes. Two upper "teeth" on pm line thin, long. Hw bands pink. Heavy black checking on off-white hindwing fringe. Relatively thick black hw median band almost reaches inner margin which is usually heavily adorned with dark hairs. Tim Dyson image. BG: LaSalle: July-Aug.-Sept.

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NEW--- C. judith 69mm (1) C. junctura 81mm & 76mm (2) C. dejecta 72mm & 72mm (2) NEW-- C. relicta 72mm (1) ---*not sugared* ----resting on tree in daytime C. cerogama 73mm (1)

On July 18, 2007 Bill Garthe writes, "Well, I couldn't wait until the usual time in August/September to sugar and blacklight for Catocalas. I have never sugared in July for them, but the results are getting good. I also put a few pics of some of the equipment I use to do the sugaring thing. I use mashed ripe bananas, ripe peaches, brown sugar, white sugar, and apples all put into, and mixed up in, a 5-gallon bucket. The peaches and apples are grated, not mashed. This slop should be sort-of chunky. The chunks get into the bark gaps nicely and remain there even after the rest has dried. Such chunks also hold the aroma pretty well.

**HINTS** Remember to

1. check the bottom of the trunk where some of your chunks fell while you were painting on the bait and
2. Always look around the area of the bait, not just on it. Many times I (and it happened last night) have seen a moth sitting on the trunk a few feet away from the bait. Look around the trunk, above, and below. Lastly--know what Poison Ivy looks like because this is best done in and around the edges of woods....and....don't 'put all bait on one good looking tree'---spread the array of trees out over several miles. My usual milk-run for Catocalas is 8 miles in four wooded areas with about thirty or more trees being baited. It is weird how one tree is 'hot' one year and nothing comes the next. Luckily, other baited trees were around to attract them.

I took a 4" wide paintbrush and bolted a 15" handle onto the brush handle so I can slop the stuff on the sides of trees w/o getting all gooey. I smear and work the slop into the texture of the bark in an area of about 2 feet by 8 inches a couple of hours prior to heading out. Most of the bait is between knee high and chest high. I also wait until a night that is expected to be no lower than 69 degrees (hopefully with humidity which is 'buggier' and allows for slower drying of the slop on the tree trunk) following as hot a day as possible. I also have noticed that the old big butterfly net (when slammed against a tree) tends to leave gaps through and around which the moths can escape. I HAD to fix that problem. I did two things. First I made up a plastic fruit jar, Yogurt, and part of a 2L pop bottle trap that is great for going up against a round tree. The biggest opening is curved a bit so as to allow for the rounded edge of the tree. After the moth is trapped, I slide the white piece (which is rounded to match the jar curve) along the opening of the clear jar trapping the moth. While holding the white piece against the opening that was touching the tree, I open a killing jar and place the green (pop bottle part) above the killing jar opening and remove the Yogurt 'plug' (when the moth is not near the Yogurt jar) then hold the apparatus upright. The moth slides down the dual jars into the killing bottle. The lid is carefully put on the killing jar. Also notice that the Yogurt container is tied with fishing line to the unit so it can't get lost. I keep the big white bucket piece inside my shirt. This works great and I have not yet lost a moth to escape, although I've come close a couple of times I do use my fingers as a gate when I remove the Yogurt, just in case the moth suddenly gets near--then I carefully slide my fingers from between the green opening and the killing jar.

Second, I (shown in pic three) devised a mini-net with a seven inch diameter opening which is curved (bent in the middle a bit) so it is rounded for those goofy tree trunks. It also works well and the bunched up net bagging is good to close any gaps. A similar-sized net with a twenty foot extension handle also allows me to get those moths or beetles that land high on some quiet Hwy billboard which is lit up. This net rim is not bent as I am catching it against a flat surface. Being able to reach that 'high-up' moth is really great. I get tired of tossing sticks and stuff to bother them into flight hoping to have them fly nearer to me.

What have I caught to date (three of the last seven or so nights)?

2 C. amatrix --------and saw another
1 C. junctura ---------------------only the fourth one in my coll. of this sp.
4 C. cara -------My "Favorite" Catocala
2 C. ultronia
1 C. neogama ----------------------only my third in the collection of this sp.
1 C. piatrix ----------------------also my third one in the coll. of this sp.
1 C. cerogama was seen, but flew off

Remember---this is only mid-July. The August and September months are even better.

On July 19, 2007, Bill writes, "Miracles DO indeed happen!!!

Last night it was HOT (86 degrees), muggy humid, and storms were coming. The day before, we got a ton of rain. I thought this had to be my night since often rains followed by hot nights has been productive. I did my usual run of some forty trees and .....I got a wonderful surprise. I caught 5 new species, along with some other 18 that I had already.

I had to take some hours this morning to ID these goofy moths, but here is what I got (some were mounted and some were papered for a buddy).

1 Catocala (Euparthenos) nubilis ----------only my second one ever!!
8 C. ultronia
1 C. grynea ---new
1 C. mira ---new
1 C. abbreviatella ---new--looks just like C. whitney in the Holland Bk.
1 C. insolabilis ---new
1 C. obscura ---new
2 C. cara
6 C. ilia----including one of Form conspicua

------------------------------------ 3 got away and I saw another 5 that were in too poor a condition to justify killing. At one point I had three on one tree and had to choose which one---I went with the nubilis!!

We are supposed to have a cooler spell now, so I can get some sleep. Last night I came in at 2:00 a.m. after cleaning my mother's wet basement and heading out at 8:30 p.m. Luckily, I put out the slop prior to my Mother's call for help. Boy I worked fast.

I also found that the small net was really better when things are happening so fast. I even managed to net one in the air with that little net---talk about determination Anyway---more will come later on."