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Species Catocala mira - Wonderful Underwing - Hodges#8863

Wonderful Underwing - Catocala mira Wonderful Underwing - Catocala mira Erebidae: Catocala - Catocala mira moth - Catocala mira Wonderful Underwing ??? - Catocala mira Catocala blandula ? - Catocala mira Catocala mira Moth - Catocala mira
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Erebidae
Subfamily Erebinae
Tribe Catocalini
Genus Catocala (Underwings)
Species mira (Wonderful Underwing - Hodges#8863)
Hodges Number
8863
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Catocala mira Grote, 1876 (1), (2), (3), (4)
Catocala mira var. dana Cassino, 1918 (5), (4)
Explanation of Names
Specific epithet from Latin meaning "wonderful, marvelous, amazing, surprising, awesome."
Size
Wingspan 40-50 mm. (6)
Identification
Adult - basal area of forewing not dark/blackish (as it is in C. blandula and crataegi); 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)
Range
Manitoba through southern Ontario and Quebec to New Hampshire (missing Maine), south to Florida, and west to Texas. (6)
Lectotype female: USA. (7)
Habitat
Shrubby pastures, river floodplains, and wood edges where larval food plant (hawthorn) grows.
Season
Adults fly in July and August - or earlier (June) in the south.
Food
Larvae feed on leaves of hawthorn (Crataegus). (6)
Life Cycle
One generation per year; eggs are laid on tree bark in the fall, and hatch the following spring; pupation takes place on the ground.

Larva; adult
Remarks
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.

C. blandula
  

C. mira
  

C. crataegi
  

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.
See Also
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 and crataegi 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 (blackish)
Print References
Barnes, Wm. & J.H. McDunnough, 1918. Illustrations of the North American species of the genus Catocala. Memoirs of the AMNH 2(1): p.40; Pl.10, f.2-3; Pl.13, f.12 (larva). (3)
Grote, A.R., 1876. On species of Catocala. The Canadian Entomologist 8(12): 230. (1)
Works Cited
1.On species of Catocala
A. R. Grote. 1876. The Canadian Entomologist, 8(12): 229-232.
2.The genus Catocala.
George. D. Hulst. 1884. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 7(1): 14-56.
3.Illustrations of the North American species of the genus Catocala.
William Barnes, James Halliday McDunnough. 1918. Memoirs of the AMNH 2(1).
4.Systematics of moths in the genus Catocala (Lepidoptera, Erebidae) IV. Nomenclatorial stabilization of the ....
Lawrence Gall, David Hawks. 2010. Zookeys 39: 37-83.
5.New species of Catocala.
Samuel E. Cassino. 1918. The Lepidopterist 2(7): 52-54; Pl.4, f.1-4.
6.Bill Oehlke's North American Catocala
7.Systematics of moths in the genus Catocala (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). III.
Gall, Lawrence F. & David C. Hawks. 2002. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society. 56(4): 234-264.
8.North American Moth Photographers Group