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Whitney's Underwing Moth (Catocala whitneyi)


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 Whitney's Underwing Moth (Catocala whitneyi). 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 whitneyi 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 gray moth with basal dash absent, reniform spot and antemedial line each forming a black wedge on forewings. Hindwings yellow-orange with two black bands, the marginal band broken.

Similar Species: C. abbreviatella has heavy dark lines on the forewing perpendicular to the leading edge and emerges earlier. 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 and emerges earlier.

Habitat: Basically a prairie species but it does occur in xeric oak savanna and other dry lightly wooded habitats where the foodplant is common.

Host Plant: Leadplant, Amorpha canescens.

Associated Species: Catocala abbreviatella and amestris also feed on this plant in Wisconsin, though C. amestris is not usually found with C. whitneyi.

State Distribution: Dane, Grant, Green, Monroe Cos.

Global Distribution: Plains states eastward to Ohio and Tennessee.

Phenology: Adults mid July-early August. Early adult date June 27. Flight period begins about a week later than C.abbreviatella.

Life and Natural History: Eggs are laid on the plant or in the litter nearby in July or August. Eggs overwinter and the larvae feed on foliage in the spring. The larvae are found at the uppermost tips of old growth beginning when the leaf buds unfurl in late May. Larvae hide in debris during the day and feed during the night. After larval development, the caterpillars will cease feeding and shorten in preparation for pupation. 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 (Rings, et al. 1992). Search plants for larvae in early June and blacklight for adults in July. Peak flight periods between 1:30 and 3:00 am.(Borth and Barina, 1991).



Whitney's Underwing Moth

Photo © Les Ferge.

Last revised: Thursday, January 10, 2019