Moths of North Carolina
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Catocala Members:
12 NC Records

Catocala pretiosa Lintner, 1876 - Precious Underwing

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Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: CatocaliniP3 Number: 930846.00 MONA Number: 8858.10
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 XVII (also adopted by Forbes, 1954), which feed mainly on members of the Rosaceae; 12 other members of this group (as redefined by Kons and Borth, 2015b) also occur in North Carolina.
Species Status: In the past, pretiosa was treated as a form of Catocala crataegi by some authors (e.g., Barnes and McDunnough, 1918; Sargent, 1976), but as a full species by others (e.g., Forbes, 1954). The current opinion is that it is a distinct species (Schweitzer, 1982; Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010; Schweitzer et al., 2011; Wagner et al., 2011). Pretiosa also now includes the former Catocala texarkana (Brower, 1976) as a subspecies (Gall and Hawks, 2010; Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010). Specimens that appear to represent texarkana have been recorded from the Mountains to the Coastal Plain of North Carolina (discussed and illustrated by Schweitzer, 1982; Hall and Sullivan, pers. obs.). A number of our specimens from the Coastal Plain, conversely, match the description of the nominate subspecies. Consequently, we make no taxonomic distinction between the two forms.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984; described as C. texarkana under C. crataegi; not illustrated)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Brower (1976); Sargent (1976); Schweitzer (1982); Schweitzer et al. (2011)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized Underwing, with strongly contrasting pale and dark areas on the forewing and yellow-and black-banded hindwings. The median area is characteristically whitish, with a brighter ring of white surrounding the reniform spot. The basal area is contrastingly black, with a dark band also variably paralleling the inner margin. In form pretiosa, the basal black patch ends abruptly at the anal vein, with the basal portion of the inner margin bordered by whitish-gray rather than dark brown (Forbes, 1954). The black basal patch also does not extend beyond the antemedian line, leaving a pale gap between the antemedian and postmedian in the fold. In form texarkana, the dark basal patch is joined with a dark band that connects the antemedian and postmedian, although this band usually becomes browner or grayer as it approaches the inner margin. In some specimens, the pale ground color of the median area extends all the way to the inner margin in the gap between the antemedian and postmedian; in others (form bridwelli), this area is completely blackened, similar to the pattern typical of crataegi (Brower, 1976). In all forms, the whitish median and bright white ring around the reniform is characteristic, distinguishing pretiosa from crataegi, blandula, mira, and aestivalia.
Wingspan: 40-50 mm (Sargent, 1976, given for crataegi)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are gray, sometimes with a dark mid-dorsal stripe. A short, rearward projecting horn is present on A5. The larvae of C. blandula are similar but have a reddish saddle,have warted pinnacula and lack the horn on A5 (see Wagner et al., 2011, for illustrations and detailed descriptions).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Recorded in all areas of the state except for the Barrier Islands and High Mountains
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, flying in June and July
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records in the Coastal Plain come mainly from peatlands, where Chokeberry has been observed as a host plant. In the eastern Piedmont, records come from semi-wooded residential areas, where apple or other ornamental shrubs may be the hosts. Habitats and hosts used in the Mountains are unrecorded.
Larval Host Plants: Oligophagous, feeding on members of the Rosaceae. Wagner et al. (2011) specifically list Chokeberry (Sorbus) as the most frequent host, but with apple, hawthorn, and serviceberry all used to some extent.
Observation Methods: Comes well to bait (Schweitzer, 1982) but comes to blacklights as well as porch lights to some extent.
See also Habitat Account for General Rosaceous Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 S2S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: We have few records for this species but it appears to make use of wide range of host plants and habitats and is generally distributed across the entire state. The reasons for its apparent rarity are unknown, but its strong decline in the Northeast is suspected to be related to host plant loss due to the browsing impacts of deer (Schweitzer et al., 2011). More surveys are needed in North Carolina are needed both to document the range of host plants that are used here, as well as declines in those species due to deer.

 Photo Gallery for Catocala pretiosa - Precious Underwing

Photos: 8

Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-07-02
Chatham Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-16
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-16
Madison Co.
Recorded by: Bo Sullivan on 2016-04-04
Carteret Co.
Comment: Found on Aronia arbutifolia. Confirmed by D. Wagner. 23 mm.
Recorded by: Bo Sullivan on 2016-04-04
Carteret Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2012-06-12
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 1996-06-05
Orange Co.
Comment: Probably form texarkana; determined by L.F. Gall (1999). Wingspan = 4.9 cm; forewing length = 2.2 cm.
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 1994-06-15
Dare Co.
Comment: Form pretiosa. Wingspan = 5.0 cm; forewing length = 2.5 cm.