Sunday, August 19, 2007

Underwing Moth In Mourning For Taxonomic Stability

Underwing moth, cryptic forewings

Underwing or Catocola moths are common on Droop Mountain, and there are quite a few species with colorfully-striped hindwings of yellow, orange, or pink. Thursday night's rain brought a nice crop of Friday morning moths, and of course I nudged this large individual, anticipating a surprising flash of color. I got a real surprise this time, for the moth took flight, with flashes of intense flat black. Lucky for me it didn't fly far or high, and I was able to get a picture of the hindwings.

There are Catocolas with specific epithets like lachrymosa and dejecta, and I've seen these funeral hindwings in field guides and collections, but this was my first black Underwing on the wing.

Underwing moth, displaying black hindwings

Historically, the Underwings are members of the Noctuidae, but that family was a taxonomic dumping ground, and lepidopterists have been working clean-up for some time. The Noctuoidea of Eastern Canada includes Catocola in the Noctuiidae. has placed Catocola in the Eribidae. Curiously, both resources cite the same taxonomic authority: "Kitching, I.J., and J.E. Rawlins. 1999. (The Noctuoidea, pp. 355-401 in Kristensen N.P. (editor). Lepidoptera: Moths and butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, systematics and biogeography. Handbook of Zoology/Handbuch der Zoologie. Walter de Gruyter. Berlin/New York)."

Underwing moth, head and thorax


Larry said...

Great title, Rebecca!

Anonymous said...

Just caught one of these in Wisconsin!