McHenry County Catocala

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Scott Boutilier who has been sending me images of and sighting data for Catocala species recorded in McHenry County in northeastern Illinois.

I, William Oehlke, have taken Scott Boutilier'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 McHenry County. I am sure there are some omissions

Those species followed by my intitials are unconfirmed but expected. Those species followed by "SB" are confirmed by Scott Boutilier. Those species without initial attachments are confirmed by Database of Illinois Lepidoptera II.

I have grouped them sequentially in a manner that I hope will help regarding identifications.

Very Distinctive Forewings/Hindwings:

Catocala relicta WO; Forsaken, White, Relict; wingspan: 70-80mm
There is considerable variation with regard to black/white concentrations on the forewings. The form clara (depicted), has the basal and subterminal areas predominantly white; the form phrynia, is evenly dusted with grey over the entire forewing. Typical specimens have the basal and subterminal areas filled with blackish scales.

The black hindwings, with a brilliant even white inner band and white fringe, are also distinctive. Tim Dyson image.

Catocala ultronia Ultronia Underwing, wingspan: 50-63mm

There is considerable variation in forewing pattern. The forewings are typically gray-brown, with a dark lower margin and a characteristic brown patch near the wingtip.

The hind tarsi have three rows of spines.

Occasionally the lower wings will be yellow instead of orange, and the outer wing margin is heavily barred and has a pure white patch at the apex. Steve Walter image.

Catocala grynea ; Woody Underwing; wingspan: 40-50mm

The forewing is a dull greenish grey with orangey-brown shading along the inner margin. The antemedial and postmedial lines are quite faint. The renifrom and subreniform spots (sometimes indistinct) are usually thinly outlined in lighter grey.

Hindwing fringe is orange and heavily barred with some white near the apex. The median black band makes a complete loop. Tim Dyson image.

Catocala cerogama SB; Yellow-Banded; wingspan 70-80mm
There are several different forms. The pm line is distinct, dark and has an elongate pair of projections. The pm and am lines meet the inner margin in relative proximity.

The closed subreniform spot it lighter than surrounding areas, and it is shaped a bit like an arrowhead with the point toward the body. The hindwings are distinctive. Jean-Benoît Duval image.

Catocala cerogama, courtesy of Scott Boutilier; August 17-26 at sugar bait.

Catocala minuta; Little Underwing; wingspan: 35-45mm; WO

The forewing is generally grey-brown with a greatly widened (near the costa only), white, subterminal line.

The outer black band of the hindwing is unbroken and the inner band forms a complete loop with considerable brown scaling along the inner margin.

Steve Walter image.

** 8796 Catocala nebulosa SB; Clouded; wingspan 75-86mm
Moths have a prominent dark brown upper-half-basal patch that extends to and ends at the antemedial line.

The apical area also tends to be brown, much darker than the median area but not as dark as the basal patch. The anal angle also has the darker brown scaling.

The pm line is distinct near the costa and inner margin, but becomes weak between the two. It meets the inner margin in relative close proximity to the am line. The closed subreniform spot is large and connects to the pm line via a thin line.

Catocala nebulosa image by Scott Boutilier; August 24; sugar bait.

Catocala serena Serene Underwing, wingspan: 55-60mm; WO

The head and collar and abdomen are brown while the thorax is grey.

The black marginal band of the lower wings is indented at the center, and the relatively narrow, deep yellow to yellow-orange median band parallels this indentation.

Basal hairs are brown. Joe Garris image.

Catocala parta Mother Underwing; wingspan: 70-85mm

The black dashes in the basal, subapical and anal areas help to identify this species. The hindwings 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. Tim Dyson image.

Catocala nuptialis; Married Underwing; wingspan 40-50mm; WO

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.

Catocala briseis; Briseis; wingspan 60-70mm
The forewings are predominantly a mottled dark-grey-brown with some lighter areas 1) between the postmedial and subterminal lines, 2) at the very base of the antemedial and postmedial lines along the inner margin, and 3) over the subreniform spot running diagonally toward the costa. The postmedial lines have relativley short, blunt teeth. The hindwing fringe is white and unbroken and the inner black band (fairly even) reaches the inner margin. Tim Dyson image.

Catocala illecta; Magdalen Underwing; wingspan: 60-70mm; WO
The forewing pattern and colouration is much like that of concumbens, pale grey with faint black lines.
Hindwings are light yellow and the irregular inner black band terminates well before the inner margin. Hindwing fringe is orangey-yellow and heavily barred. James Adams image.

Large Pink Underwings

Catocala amatrix SB; Sweetheart; wingspan: 75-95mm
This relatively large species usually has a dark diffuse bar running from the body to just below the apex on the forewing. The large, light open subreniform spot interrupts the bar. The thorax is grey and is marked with a dark brown prothoracic collar followed almost immediately by a dark bar. The abdomen is light brown. The hindwings are pink to salmony-pink. The white fringe is heavily checked with black along the veins. The black median band is relatively narrow and terminates well before the inner margin. J.F. Rickert image

Catocala amatrix image by Scott Boutilier; August 23-29 at sugar bait.

Catocala cara SB; Darling; wingspan 70-85mm
Note the deep maroon almost purple cast to the forewings, mixed with a very pale green. The lower half of the am and pm lines is barely visible. There are no distinctive bars or dashes. The two upper "teeth" on the pm line are thin and long.

The hindwing bands are pink. There is heavy black checking on the off-white hindwing fringe. The relatively thick black median band of the hindwing almost reaches the inner margin which is usually heavily adorned with dark hairs.
Tim Dyson image.

Catocala cara image by Scott Boutilier; August 16-23 at sugar bait.

Catocala amica Girlfriend Underwing, wingspan 35-40mm

The black median band is absent from the dorsal (upper) surface of the yellow to orange-yellow hindwing, but it is present on the ventral surface. The hindwing frinige is white near the apex, but then becomes grey to black along the rest of the hindwing.
Moths come in to lights and to bait.
John Himmelman image.

Catocala coccinata, WO; Scarlet; wingspan: 57-70mm
There are usually diffuse basal and anal dashes on an otherwise light grey, mottled forewing.
The hindwing fringe is white (often with some salmon scaling) and is heavily checked. I find the "tooth" just below the pair of very elongated "teeth" is much reduced and is quite rounded, usually allowing considerable room for a lighter patch of scales. There is a dark bar across the thorax. The reniform spot tends be to light, often with a greenish cast to it. Joe Garris image.

Catocala consors; Consort Underwing; wingspan 70mm +; WO

The forewing has irregular am and pm (single projecting "tooth") narrow black lines.
On the hindwing, the orange-yellow pm band tends to be narrow and irregularly zigzagged. Sometimes the band is wider and slightly less irregular. Orange hindwing fringe is heavily barred.

Catocala crataegi; Hawthorn Underwing; wingspan: 40-50mm; WO
Determination is based on dark (black) shading in forewing basal area continuing along inner margin to anal angle and brown shading beyond postmedial line. There is also a 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.

Catocala dulciola WO

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, especially in the median area.

John Glaser image.

#8778 Catocala habilis SB; ILII; wingspan: 55-65mm
Note the large "M" on the thorax and the "pork chop" shaped, light coloured subreniform spot that becomes very dark in its constriction at the juncture with the postmedian line. The pm line is narrow but dark and distinct. It is outwardly lined with a narrow suffusion of white scales, followed by a broader band of brown scales, and then another broader suffusion of white scales up to a very regular dentation of the subterminal line. There is always significant "bleeding" of the yellow-orange to salmon scales into the hindwing fringes. The large reniform spot has a brown center, faintly edged with black, then white, then black again. Joe Garris image.

Catocala habilis image by Scott Boutilier; August 21-26 -- Sept 6, at sugar bait.

** 8801 Catocala ilia; Ilia; wingspan: 65-82mm
Catocala ilia specimens come in several different forms, but most of them have the characteristic white area in and around the reniform spot. There is also a diffuse dark arc running from this spot to just below the outer apex.
Except in worn specimens and the darkest forms, the white dots near the outer margin of the forewing are in character with the overall "contrasting" appearance of this moth.
Joe Garris image.

Catocala innubens SB; Betrothed; wingspan: 55-72mm

The forewing is mottled with white, grey and brown, and the subrenifrom spot tends to be lighter in colour, although it is sometimes obscured by an indistinct blackish bar which runs from the middle of the basal/thorax connection to just below the much lighter apex at the outer margin.

Jim Vargo image.

Catocala innubens image by Scott Boutilier; Jy. 29; Aug. 20-22; Sep. 7-16, sugar bait and light.

Catocala junctura; Joined Underwing; wingspan: 67-85mm; WO
The forewing is usually dark brownish-gray to evenly powdered blue-grey without significant markings. The doubled reniform spot is often obscure. The thin, slightly darker am and pm lines run from the costa to the inner margin and are not widely spaced at the lower margin. The hindwing is salmon or orange-pink with a narrow inner black band that turns in sharply but does not meet the dark-haired inner margin, thus distinguishing it from unijuga. Gary Anweiler image.

luctuosa SB

** 8876 Catocala micronympha; 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; Wonderful Underwing; wingspan 40-50mm; WO

The forewing lacks the dark contrasting lines of crataegi and blandula. There is also considerable brown in the subterminal area and the subreniform spot is very conspicuous and usually brown. A light area runs obliquely from the costa to the subreniform spot. There is also a noticeable space along the inner margin between the antemedial and postmedial lines.

The hindwing is deep orange and has a complete inner black band. The outer black band is unbroken.
Tim Dyson image.

** 8798 Catocala neogama; SB; wingspan 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 forewings with more pronounced markings. Examination of hind tibia is sometimes needed for identification. Those of neogama tend to be flattened and unevenly and sparsely spined while tibia of subnata are cylindrical with spines dense and uniform in distribution. Joe Garris photo.

Black Underwings: Small to Large

** 8781 judith; WO; Judith's; wingspan: 45-55mm
Judith is one of the smaller "black" underwings.

The forewing is a uniform light grey with thin and only slightly darkened antemedial, median and postmedial lines. There are no darkened dashes (slight anal dash) or transverse lines. The reniform area is slightly darkened while the area just before the subterminal line is a bit lighter. Note absence of hw white fringe. Joe Garris photo.

Catocala epione Epione Underwing; wingspan 55-65mm

The postmedian 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.

This species flies to the ground when threatened.

John Himmelman image.

Catocala flebilis ; Mournful Underwing; wingspan: 54-65mm; WO; There is a diffuse black band (often lighter than shown) running from the basal area to the outer margin just below the apex, interrupted by a pale grey subreniform spot. The reniform spot is filled with brown and there is additional brown outside the postmedial line. There is no anal dash as there is in angusi. The hindwings have white fringe. James Adams image.

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

Catocala angusi Angus' Underwing, wingspan: 60-74mm; WO,

The dark dashes/streaks in basal area (sometimes absent) and anal area distinguish this species. The reniform spot tends to have a light brown filling. The hindwing fringe is black except for white region at the apex.
James Adams image.

** 8784 obscura; SB; Obscure; wingspan 60-72mm
Obscura has dull, grey forewings, usually void of any significant dashes or streaks, providing for easy identification. The antemedial, median and postmedial lines of obscura are faint and the subterminal line region is only slightly paler than the rest of the forewing.

The hindwing fringe is off-white and lightly checked on the veins. Joe Garris photo.

Catocala obscura image by Scott Boutilier; August 20-27 at sugar bait.

Catocala residua; Residua; wingspan: 60-73mm
is distinguished from Catocala obscura by the grey hindwing fringe of residua.

Catocala obscura has white to off-white fringe and tends to be less common in northern portions of its range. The forewing subterminal line/area of Catocala residua tends to be pale as is its open, elongated subreniform spot.
Like C. obscura it is otherwise devoid of significant markings except for the hint of a dark bar running from the basal area through the reniform spot to the outer margin just below the apex. Joe Garris image.

Catocala retecta; BG; wingspan: 60-75mm
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 are just below the costa running to the inner margin just outside the pm line. The off-white hindwing fringe is only lightly checked along the wing veins.
Joe Garris image.

Catocala insolabilis ; Inconsolable Underwing; wingspan 65-75mm; WO
The forewing is light grey with blackish shading along the inner margin. The antemedial and postmedial lines are thin.
The hindwing fringe is very narrow and grey, becoming whiter toward the apex.
The ventral surface clearly distinguishes insolabis, being almost completely black except for some white in the basal area. Vernon Brou image.

Catocala robinsoni Robinson's Underwing, wingspan: 70-80mm; WO
Catocala robinsoni have relatively plain pale grey forwewings. The female has a basal dash which is absent in the male.

There are several forms. All forms have white fringe on the hindwings, and the bands on the ventral surface are very prominent.

Image courtesy of Vernon Brou.

Catocala lacrymosa Tearful Underwing; wingspan: 60-82mm; WO
The forewing is highly variable with a mixture of black, brown (wing tips and outside postmedial line) and dark grey scaling. There are usually whitish crescents along the inner margin at the base of the antemedial and postmedial lines.

The hindwings are black with white checkered fringe, turning black near the anal angle.

Troy Bartlett image.

Catocala vidua BG; Widow; wingspan: 70-80mm
The ground colour of the forewing is light grey. There is a distinguished dark arc running through the top of the reniform spot to just below the apex. There are heavy, dark anal and basal dashes, connecting to a dark median bar, running parallel to the inner margin.
The am line is thick and black in its upper half.
The reniform spot consists of two almost concentric irregular ovals. The subreniform spot is light, open, but constricted as it meets the pm line. The hindwing is black with broad, white fringe, only lightly interrupted. Marie Winn image.

Catocala maestosa Sad Underwing; wingspan: 78-98mm; WO

Maesotsa is quite similar to, although usually larger than, vidua. Both have the dark arc from the costa, above the reniform spot, to the outer margin just below the apex. Maesotsa, however, lacks the dark bar, found on vidua, parallel to the inner margin.

The reniform spot is brown and there is brown shading just outside the postmedial line. The hindwing fringe is white, narrow and heavily barred. Marie Winn image.

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

#8795 Catocala palaeogama form phalanga; wingspan: 60-70mm.

In this form, the forewing basal area and subterminal area are very dark against a much lighter background.
The dark bar in the outer half of the median area, paralleling the inner margin halfway between the inner margin and the light, closed subreniform spot is especially evident. Joe Garris image.

Catocala piatrix SB; Penitent Underwing; wingspan: 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.

Adults come in to lights and also respond to baits.

Catocala piatrix image by Scott Boutilier; August 17-26, sugar bait.

Catocala subnata, Youthful Underwing, wingspan: 75-90mm; SB
The forewings are greyish white with blue-grey and light brown scales. 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 Dyson image.

Catocala subnata image by Scott Boutilier; August 23, sugar bait.

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

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