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For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
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Abbreviated Underwing Moth (Catocala abbreviatella)


There is no overview information available for that species.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Abbreviated Underwing Moth (Catocala abbreviatella). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Catocala abbreviatella in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG3G4
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Identification: A grey moth with sharp black lines perpendicular to the leading edge on forewings. Hindwing yellow-orange with two black bands, the marginal band broken.

Similar Species: C. amestris has double black lines on the forewing and the hindwing more yellow. C. sordida has a conspicuous deeply zigzag whitish line across the forewing. C. nuptialis has a large black spot near the leading edge of the forewing and the hindwing marginal band is not broken but rather indented. C. whitneyi has a solid black triangle on the forewing and emerges later.

Habitat: Dry prairie, hill prairie.

Nectar Source: Found on milkweed flowers in MO.

Host Plant: Leadplant, Amorpha canescens.

Associated Species: Catocala amestris and whitneyi also feed on leadplant in Wisconsin, though C. amestris is not often found with C. abbreviatella as is C. whitneyi.

State Distribution: Dane, Grant, Sauk, Trempealeau Cos.

Global Distribution: Minnesota and Manitoba to Texas, sporadic record east to PA.

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Both eggs and larvae are vulnerable to spring or fall fires.

Phenology: Adults in Late June to August.

Life and Natural History: Eggs are laid on the plant or in the litter nearby. Eggs overwinter.Larvae hide in debris during the day and feed during the night on the foliage.Larvae are found at the uppermost tips of old growth when the leaf buds begin to unfurl in late May. After larval development, the caterpillars will cease feeding and shorten in preparation for pupation. Larvae wrap themselves in silk and assume a curled position. Larva are usually pupating by June 19. Pupation occurs typically in the litter. Most Noctuids are nocturnal and females attract males by the release of pheromones.

Survey Guidelines: Attracted to artificial light. Many Catocala species are attracted by "sugaring" along forest paths and edges in late summer and early fall (Rings, et al. 1992). Search plants for larvae in early June and blacklight in July for adults. Peak periods between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am (Borth and Barina, 1991).



Abbreviated Underwing Moth

Photo © Les Ferge.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Abbreviated Underwing Moth. Only natural communities for which Abbreviated Underwing Moth is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Natural community Score
Dry Prairie 3
Dry-mesic Prairie 2
Sand Prairie 2

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Abbreviated Underwing Moth. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Abbreviated Underwing Moth occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020