September 17, 2021
Ben here with another edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!
I'm always a fan of cool moths, and the underwing moths (genus Catocala) are a particular favorite. This is Catocala piatrix, the penitent underwing!
These moths are mostly found in the eastern half of the U.S., and depending upon the location, they can be found on the wing from July through early November. There's also a subspecies (Catocala piatrix dionyza) that is found in Arizona. The caterpillars feed on ash, butternet, hickory, pecan, persimmon, and walnut trees. These moths are most active about two hours after nightfall, although many species are also active for an hour or two each day right around noon.
"Catocala" roughly translates to "beautiful hindwings," and that's certainly true of moths in this genus! Underwing moths are fairly drab until they reveal their hindwings, which are generally brightly colored. It's believed that flashing these colorful hindwings allows the moths to startle any predators that come across them. Unfortunately for the moths, it also makes them a popular target for collectors of butterflies and moths. You win some, you lose some.
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