Catocala

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Eucorna and Lamprosia redirect here. For the metalmark butterfly and arctiid moth genera, respectively, see Voltinia (butterfly) and Lamprosiella.
Catocala
Catocala pura.JPG
Semirelict Underwing (C. semirelicta)
Imago of the pura form from above
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae
Subfamily: Erebinae
Tribe: Catocalini
Genus: Catocala
Schrank, 1802
Type species
Phalaena nupta
Linnaeus, 1767
Diversity
About 270 species
Synonyms

Numerous, see text

Catocala is a generally Holarctic genus of moths in the Erebidae family. The moths are commonly known as underwing moths or simply underwings. These terms are sometimes used for a few related moths, but usually – especially when used in plural, not as part of a species name – they are used to refer to Catocala only.

Of the more than 250 known species, slightly less than half are found in North America – mostly in the United States – while the rest occur in Eurasia. About one-fifth (almost 30) of these species are native to Europe. A few species occur in the northern Neotropics and Indomalaya.[1]

Description and ecology[edit]

Most species of Catocala have medium to large adults, cryptically coloured except for the hindwings, which are marked with stripes in orange, red, white, or even blue. In some, the hindwings are mostly blackish. Unlike what the common name "underwings" seems to suggest, the colour is brightest on the upperside. However, the bright hindwings are not visible at rest, being hidden under the dull forewings – hence the name. Due to their diversity and variety of colors and patterns, underwing moths are popular with collectors of Lepidoptera.

It is believed that the bright colors, arranged in usually roughly concentric markings, at a casual glance resemble the eyes of a predatory animal, such as a cat. An underwing moth, well camouflaged in its daytime resting spot on a tree trunk or branch, will suddenly flash open the hindwings when disturbed. A bird or other small predator that is not used to this display is likely to be frightened, allowing the moth to escape. However, unlike some other bright-colored moths which are bad-tasting or even poisonous to predators, underwing moths are well palatable at least to some birds (e.g. the Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata). To assist in avoiding nocturnal predators such as bats, these moths also possess (like many of their relatives) fairly well-developed hearing organs.[2]

Caterpillar of the Beloved Underwing (C. ilia)

The caterpillars of most species feed on the leaves of woody plants, usually trees but sometimes shrubs. Typical foodplants are Fagales of the families Betulaceae, Fagaceae and Juglandaceae – mainly hickory (Carya), oak (Quercus) and walnut tree (Juglans) speecies, as well as others such as alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), birch (Betula) and chestnut (Castanea). The caterpillars of numerous Old World and some North American species feed on the Salicaceae Populus (poplars) and Salix (willows), which belong to the Malpighiales. Less common larval foodplants of Catocala are for example elms (Ulmus) and various Rosaceae of the Rosales, Tilia (linden and basswood) of the Malvales, or some Fabaceae of the Fabales; as the preceding, these all belong to the Fabidae lineage of rosid eudicots. More unusually, underwing moth caterpillars have also been found to feed on such plants as maple (Acer) which belongs to a distant lineage of rosids, as well as on such plants as ash trees (Fraxinus) and blueberries (Vaccinium) which are asterids and quite unrelated to the other foodplants by eudicot standards.[3]

The adults are predominantly nocturnal, flying from shortly after dusk right up to daybreak. They are generally most active about two hours after nightfall. However, several if not all species of underwing moths have a second activity period exactly around noon, during which they are also regularly found on the wing for about 1–2 hours each day.[4]

The genus name Catocala roughly means "beautiful hindwings". It is a combination of two Ancient Greek words, kato (κάτω, "the rear one" or "the lower one"), and kalos (καλός, "beautiful").[5]

Classification[edit]

The species of Catocala are here divided into a Eurasian group, and another one which is found in North America. This does not imply actual relationships; it is mainly done to more conveniently deal with the large number of species. Still, it is not unlikely at all that the groups consist at least to some extent of closely related species.[6]

There are several cryptic species complexes in Catocala, e.g. the group around the Delilah Underwing (C. delilah); these and other hitherto unknown species are still being discovered and described in some numbers. Thus, resolving the phylogeny and taxonomy of the underwing moths is an ongoing effort, which has made (as of 2011) little progress. In the scientific literature, smaller subdivisions into putatively related species are sometimes applied, but there is no consistent and widely accepted taxonomic treatment for the genus as a whole.

Synonyms[edit]

Several distinct genera have formally been proposed for splitting from Catocala, but these are all treated here as junior synonyms. These synonyms and other invalid names of Catocala are:[7]

  • Andreusia Hampson, 1913 (unjustified emendation)
  • Andrewsia Grote, 1882
  • Astiodes (lapsus)
  • Astiotes Hübner, 1823
  • Belpharidia (lapsus)
  • Blephara Ochsenheimer, 1816 (unavailable)
  • Blepharidia Hübner, 1822
  • Blepharonia Hübner, 1823 (unavailable)[8]
  • Blepharonia Hübner, 1825
  • Blepharum Hübner, 1806 (rejected)
  • Catabapta Hulst, 1884
  • Catacola (lapsus)
  • Catocalla (lapsus)
  • Corisce Hübner, 1823
  • Corisee (lapsus)
  • Ephesia Hübner, 1818
  • Eucora Hübner, 1823
  • Eunetis Hübner, 1823
  • Hemigeometra Haworth, 1809
  • Lamprosia Hübner, [1821]
  • Lamprosia Hübner, 1827 (non Hüber, [1821]: preoccupied)
  • Mormonia Hübner, 1823
  • Mormosia (lapsus)

Palearctic species[edit]

Comparison of Eurasian species

Nearctic species[edit]

Comparison of North American species

Other "underwing moths"[edit]

As noted in the introduction, some species besides the Catocala species are also commonly known as "underwings". Typically however, the name is used with a qualifier, such as a color term, in these cases. Non-Catocala "underwing moths" are typically owlet moths, namely: Subfamily Catocalinae

Subfamily Amphipyrinae

Subfamily Erebinae

Subfamily Hadeninae

Subfamily Noctuinae

However, the "orange underwings" are two species of genus Archiearis of the geometer moth family (Geometridae):

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ FE (2011), and see references in Savela (2012)
  2. ^ Fullard & Napoleone (2001), Stevens (2005)
  3. ^ Nelson & Loy (1983), and see references in Savela (2012)
  4. ^ Fullard & Napoleone (2001)
  5. ^ Woodhouse (1910)
  6. ^ See references in Savela (2012)
  7. ^ Pitkin & Jenkins (2004b)
  8. ^ "Blepharonia" was initially proposed as name for a tribe in 1823, and only established as a genus name Blepharonia in 1825: Pitkin & Jenkins (2004a).

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ishizuka, K. (2002). "Notes on Catocala columbina Leech, 1900 (Lepidoptela, Noctuidae), with description of new taxa." Gekkan-Mushi (379): 12-13.
  • Ishizuka, K. (2007). "A new species of Catocala Schrank, 1802 from Western China (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae)." Gekkan-Mushi (439): 22-24.
  • Kravchenko, V. D. et al. (2008). "New underwing taxa of the section of Catocala lesbia Christoph, 1887 (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)." Acta Zoologica Lituanica 18(1): 30-49.
  • Kravchenko, V. D., Speidel, W., et al. (2008). "A new species of Catocala from Israel (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)." Acta Zoologica Lituanica 18(2): 127-129.
  • Leech, J. J. (1900). Trans. ent. Soc. London 1900: 511-663.
  • Lewandowski, S. & Tober, K. (2008). "Catocala olgaorlovae duschara subspec. nov. aus Jordanien (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)." Atalanta 39(1-4): 377-378.
  • Saldaitis, A. & Ivinskis, P. (2008). "Catocala florianii, a new species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) from China." Acta Zoologica Lituanica 18(2): 124-126.
  • Saldaitis, A. & Pekarsky, O. & Borth, R. (2014). "A new subspecies of Catocala pudica Moore, 1879 (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae (sensu lato): Erebinae) from Mongolia." Esperiana 19: 255–262.
  • Sinyaev, V., Saldaitis, A. & Ivinskis, P. (2007). Acta Zoologica Lituanica 17(4): 272-275.
  • Speidel, W., Ivinskis, P. & Saldaitis, A. (2008). "A new Catocala species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) from China." Acta Zoologica Lituanica 18(2): 122-123.
  • Weisert, F. (1998). Zeitschrift der Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Österreichischen Entomologen 50: 125-126.

External links[edit]