Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 1 NC Records

Catocala herodias Strecker, 1876 - Herodias Underwing



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ErebinaeTribe: CatocaliniP3 Number: 930836.00 MONA Number: 8850.00
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
Species Status: The nominate subspecies occurs in the southern Midwest; the form we have in our area and northward along the Atlantic Slope is Catocala herodias gerhardi (Forbes, 1954; Sargent, 1976; Schweitzer et al., 2011).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Sargent (1976); Schweitzer et al. (2011)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Schweitzer et al. (2011); Wagner et al. (2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Catocala herodias is a medium-sized Underwing with a fairly smooth gray-brown ground color on the forewings, marked with streaks or broader shading of darker brown; the hindwings are crimson red with the usual marginal and postmedial black bands. In subspecies gerhardi, the costa of the forewing is distinctly shaded with pale gray (Sergent, 1976).
Wingspan: 55-65 mm (Sargent, 1976)
Adult Structural Features: Valves in the male are symmetrical, with bluntly rounded tips; similar to those of C. coccinata (Forbes, 1954).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: As described by Forbes (1954), larvae are similar to coccinata, being gray but without any clear stripes. A somewhat widened hump is present on A5 and the undersides are pinkish white with black spots. The head is ochraceous, mottled, and deeply yellow on lobes, which are bordered with a deep brown line. The larvae of C. coccinata are similar, but have a much more prominent horn on A5 and have paired dorsal horns on A8 (Wagner et al., 2011).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Known from only a single collection from a monadnock in the western Piedmont.
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: Our one recorded date is from July, which is consistent with flight dates recorded farther north (Schweitzer et al., 2011); the flights are likely to persist into August.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Habitat is only known from the site in Stokes County, a monadnock that contains one of the few known populations of Bear Oak in the state, although the specimens were collected down slope in an area of mixed hardwoods and pines. Habitats at the sites mentioned by Schweitzer et al. (2011) are not known, but we have no records from areas in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain where Blackjack Oak is a common constituent.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous; subspecies gerhardi is strongly associated with Bear Oak (Q. ilicifolia)in the Northeast, but there are several sites in North Carolina where Bear Oak is not known to occur (Gall, cited in Schweitzer et al., 2011). That suggests that other species of oaks may be used, and larvae have been reared on Blackjack Oak and other species in captivity (Schweitzer et al.). According to Forbes (1954), larvae may prefer to feed on buds and catkins, but Schweitzer et al. found that larvae feed mainly on young, expanding leaves and must reach maturity before the foliage hardens.
Observation Methods: Males may be highly attracted to blacklights but only a few have been found at bait (Schweitzer et al., 2011). Adults appear to rest on the ground rather than on tree trunks and have been rarely found during the day (Schweitzer et al., 2011).
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Dry-Xeric Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G3 S1
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is considered rare and local throughout its range and currently has only one confirmed population in North Carolina (although that record itself is now nearly 20 years old). Although the habitat used at all of the sites where this species has been recorded in North Carolina need to be determined, the habitat present at the Stokes County site is consistent with its being a specialist on dry woodlands, especially where Bear Oak is present. These habitats require fire, at least at intervals to maintain their composition and structure. Where populations of the moth are confined to very small areas of relict habitats, however, care must be taken when prescribed burns are done to make sure that not all of the habitat is burned as a single unit. Ideally, several years will be allowed between burns for the previously burned areas to recover their populations before another unit is burned. As pointed out by Schweitzer et al. (2011), oak-dominated habitats are vulnerable to the defoliating attacks by Gypsy Moths, and the moths are vulnerable to the effects of spraying Btk or other control agents that are not specific in their effects to Gypsy Moths. In areas known to support Catocala herodias, we strongly recommend that either pheromone flakes or Gypchek be used in place of Btk.