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Catocala relicta Behavior


Darling Underwing at bait

Underwing Moths of Ojibway



Underwing moths are named after their brightly coloured and boldly patterned hindwings which contrast with the bark-like pattern of the forewings. These moths are in the genus Catocala which is part of the owlet moth family (Noctuidea).

There is one brood per year with the adult moths appearing between mid July and October. They reach their peak of diversity during mid to late August in Essex County. The eggs overwinter before hatching and the caterpillars feed on various species of trees. Their quaint common names reflect the period of the latter half of the 1800's when many underwings were first discovered and named.

Penitent Underwing


The best way to observe these moths is to go "sugaring". Mix one cup sugar, two or more mashed bananas, one oz. molasses and one bottle of beer to make the solution. Sometimes a bit of dry yeast is added to help with the fermentation process. Find a woodlot and apply this bait mixture with a paint brush to tree trunks at dusk. Visit your trees through the evening to watch these magnificent moths and other insects enjoying the sugary concoction.

The Penitent Underwing in the photograph to the right is visiting a patch of sugaring solution. Notice the bright eye shine which gives this family of insects their common name, the owlet moths.


There is concern for the future of these beautful insects as they are dependant on the survival of woodlands. The larval food plant for each species is provided below. Only a few precent of Essex County remains wooded, one of the lowest percentage for any county or regional municipality in Ontario. An * indicates the species has been recorded in the Ojibway Prairie Complex.

  1. *Catocala amatrix The Sweetheart    - Black Willow, Cottonwood
  2. *Catocala amica Girlfriend Underwing    - Black Oak
  3. Catocala blandula Charming Underwing    - hawthorns, apples
  4. *Catocala briseis Briseis Underwing    - Trembling Aspen, poplars, willows
  5. *Catocala cara Darling Underwing    - Black Willow, poplars, willows
  6. *Catocala cerogama Yellow-banded Underwing    - Basswood
  7. *Catocala coccinata Scarlet Underwing    - oaks
  8. *Catocala concumbens Sleepy Underwing    - Trembling Aspen, poplars, willows Meske’s Underwing at bait
  9. *Catocala connubialis Connubial Underwing    - oaks
  10. *Catocala crataegi Hawthorn Underwing    - hawthorns, apple
  11. Catocala dejecta Dejected Underwing    - Shagbark Hickory
  12. Catocala epione Epione Underwing    - Shagbark Hickory
  13. *Catocala grynea Woody Underwing    - hawthorns, apples
  14. Catocala habilis Habilis Underwing    - Shagbark Hickory
  15. *Catocala ilia Ilia Underwing    - Black, Red and White Oaks
  16. Catocala illecta Magdalen Underwing    - Honey Locust
  17. Catocala innubens The Betrothed    - Honey Locust
  18. Catocala insolabilis Inconsolable Underwing    - hickories
  19. Catocala judith Judith’s Underwing    - hickories (Shagbark)
  20. Catocala lacrymosa Tearful Underwing    hickories
  21. *Catocala lineella Little Lined Underwing    - oaks
  22. *Catocala maestosa Sad Underwing    - walnut/hickories
  23. Catocala meskei Meske’s Underwing    - Cottonwood, willows, poplars
  24. *Catocala micronympha The Little Nymph    - oaks
  25. Catocala minuta Little Underwing    - Honey Locust
  26. Catocala mira Wonderful Underwing    - hawthorns
  27. Catocala nebulosa Clouded Underwing    - hickories (Bitternut)
  28. Catocala neogama The Bride    - Walnut, Butternut
  29. Catocala obscura Obscure Underwing    - hickories (Shagbark)
  30. *Catocala palaeogama Oldwife Underwing    - Shagbark and Pignut Hickory
  31. *Catocala parta Mother Underwing    - Black Willow, willows, poplars
  32. *Catocala praeclara Praeclara Underwing    - service berries, Chokeberry
  33. *Catocala piatrix The Penitent    - Black Walnut and hickories
  34. Catocala relicta Forsaken or White Underwing    - Trembling Aspen
  35. Catocala residua Residua Underwing    - hickories
  36. *Catocala retecta Yellow-gray Underwing    - Shagbark Hickory
  37. Catocala serena Serene Underwing    - hickories
  38. *Catocala ultronia Ultronia Underwing    - cherries, plums, apples
  39. *Catocala unijuga Once-married Underwing    - Trembling Aspen, poplars, willows
  40. *Catocala vidua Widow Underwing    - walnut and hickories

Sweetheart UnderwingSweetheart UnderwingSweetheart Underwing
 Sweetheart Underwings


L. F. Gall. 1990. Evolutionary Ecology of Sympatric Catocala Moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) III. Experiments on Female Oviposition Preference Journal of Reseach on the Lepidoptera 29(3):217-233.

T.D. Sargent. 1976. Legion of the Night: The Underwing Moths. University of Massachusetts Press. Amherst, Massachusetts. 222 pp. (available from BioQuip)

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Please cite this page as:
Pratt, Paul D. 2019. Underwing Moths of Essex County (Version 29AUG06). Ojibway Nature Centre Home Page. Department of Parks & Recreation, Windsor, Ontario. http://www.ojibway.ca/catocala.htm

Widow Underwing at bait

Photographs © P. D. Pratt

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