A Lotta Catocala: Underwing Moths

We are (re)launching a series of Expeditions called A Lotta Catocala: Underwing Moths! In this new expedition you will see multiple species of Catocala, mostly from the United States.

Picture1During the day, Catocala moths rest on tree trunks or dark, sheltered locations such as tree cavities, on the root masses of overturned trees, or in caves. They rest with their gaudy underwings covered by gray forewings, providing camouflage against the substrate. If approached too closely, the unseen moth, sometimes explodes from its resting site in a flurry of striking colors as the hindwings flash into view. At night, Catocala become active and seek out mates and sugar, feeding from flowers, tree sap or rotting fruit. One of the targeted methods of collecting Catocala is baiting or sugaring with rotting or fermenting fruits. To concoct a bait for Catocala, the two required ingredients are sugar and alcohol. The most basic of these recipes rely simply on white or brown sugar mixed with beer or wine. This bait can be enhanced with rotting fruit (bananas, apples, mangoes, peaches, pineapple, watermelon, berries, etc.) or yeast.

It is important to remember that you will be looking at two images (for most of the specimens), dorsal and ventral. There sometimes is critical information on the back of labels. So be sure to check both images! While checking both images, look at the amazing shapes and bright coloration of the moth. Thank you so much for your help!

— Laurel Kaminsky, Digitization Coordinator, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Diversity


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