Moths of North Carolina
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Catocala Members:
30 NC Records

Catocala habilis Grote, 1872 - Habilis Underwing

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: CatocaliniP3 Number: 930768.00 MONA Number: 8778.00
Comments: One of 103 species in this genus that occur in North America (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010, 2015), 67 of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Included by Barnes and McDunnough (1918) in their Group V (also adopted by Forbes, 1954). This groups comprises 10 species, all of which feed on Hickories or Walnuts (Juglandaciae). In addition to habilis, other members of this group that occur in North Carolina include serena, robinsonii, judith, flebilis, angusi, obscura, residua, and sappho.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Sargent (1976)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-large, pale gray Underwing with black and orange-banded hindwings. The head, thorax, and the ground color of the forewings is pale gray; the wings are dusted with somewhat darker gray or with light brown beyond the postmedian. The antemedian and postmedian lines are narrow and black; the subterminal is whitish. A black basal dash is present in the females but usually absent in the males; the lower portion of the postmedian line is darker than the rest of the line, including a horizontal portion forming an anal dash. The hindwings have broad black and orange bands. Pale forms of Catocala robinsonii and myrtistica have similar forewing color and pattern but have black hindwings. Catocala serena has orange and black hindwings and pale forewings but has a more uniform, duller gray ground color; the subreniform in serena is usually more open than in habilis and the basal and anal dashes are not developed; the lines are generally less dentate in habilis and the collar is contrastingly brown (Sargent, 1976).
Wingspan: 55-65 mm (Sargent, 1976)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: Larvae are powdery gray with blackish subdorsal and lateral lines. The head is reticulated with gray, with blackish lines on the side (Forbes, 1954). The head pattern distinguishes this species from other similar, hickory-feeding larval Catocala (Wagner et al., 2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Restricted to the Mountains in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Univoltine with adults appearing in August and persisting into October
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records come primarily from rich, mesic stands of hardwoods, including montane riparian forests, cove forests, and northern hardwoods. Occurs at elevations both above and below 4,000'.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous, feeding primarily on Hickories and particularly on Shagbark (Wagner et al., 2011). Sargent (1976) also mentions Walnut as a host plant.
Observation Methods: Appears to come well to lights. As with other Catocala, probably also comes well to bait
See also Habitat Account for Rich Montane Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S4?]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species has a moderately restricted range in North Carolina, where it occupies a somewhat specialized but still widespread type of habitat. Currently, it appears to be secure within the state.

 Photo Gallery for Catocala habilis - Habilis Underwing

Photos: 8

Recorded by: tom ward on 2022-09-23
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-10-26
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-10-26
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2021-09-14
Ashe Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2015-09-16
Ashe Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2014-09-26
Ashe Co.
Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan on 2014-08-25
Ashe Co.
Comment: Specimen in NCSU Insect Museum. Wingspan = 6.4 cm; forewing length = 3.2 cm