Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Grote, 1876 (1)
Cassino, 1918 (5)
Explanation of Names
Specific epithet from Latin
meaning "wonderful, marvelous, amazing, surprising, awesome."
Adult - basal area of forewing not dark/blackish (as it is in C. blandula
); subterminal area shaded with brown; subreniform spot conspicuous and usually pale brown; pale whitish area runs obliquely from costa to subreniform spot; part of PM line forms a black streak parallel to inner margin near anal angle. Hindwing deep orange with complete inner black band; outer black band unbroken. [description adapted from Bill Oehlke] (6)
Manitoba through southern Ontario and Quebec to New Hampshire (missing Maine), south to Florida, and west to Texas. (6)
Lectotype female: USA. (7)
Shrubby pastures, river floodplains, and wood edges where larval food plant (hawthorn) grows.
Adults fly in July and August - or earlier (June) in the south.
Larvae feed on leaves of hawthorn (Crataegus
One generation per year; eggs are laid on tree bark in the fall, and hatch the following spring; pupation takes place on the ground.
It appears there may not be any current diagnostic criteria for reliably and consistently separating blandula/mira/crataegi and maybe even pretiosa.
As an example, here are the *expected* appearance and differences between blandula, mira and crataegi respectively, as the written descriptions would place them:
(images courtesy of MPG, copyright Jim Vargo)
C. blandula                            C. mira                             C. crataegi
Now, here are three different images (all courtesy of BOLD Systems) of each of those species, showing the variation that will often preclude any reliable distinction based on the accepted descriptions.
It seems C. pretiosa may be more likely to be distinguished in many cases due to it's strongly contrasting pale median area, but even specimens of that species can often blend right in with the others, such as the two specimens below:
Since these species share range, food, and season, the best approach to identifying and placing them here on BugGuide (where dissection and/or DNA sequencing has not been done) is probably a combined species complex page (i.e., a blandula-mira-crataegi species page). Until that is decided and created, individual specimens are likely to be placed to the page of whichever species they most "look like" per the old descriptions.
The PM line has two jagged "peaks" with a deep, smooth-edged sinus between them, forming a pattern that resembles the northern coastline of Australia
. A few other Catocala
species such as blandula
share this pattern, but it's a good way of separating this group from the many species that have a more uniformly-jagged PM line. -pale basal area of forewing distinguishes this species from C. blandula
(dark brown) and C. crataegi
Barnes, Wm. & J.H. McDunnough, 1918. Illustrations of the North American species of the genus Catocala. Memoirs of the AMNH
, f.2-3; Pl.13
, f.12 (larva). (3)
Grote, A.R., 1876. On species of Catocala. The Canadian Entomologist