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Species Catocala blandula - Charming Underwing - Hodges#8867

Moth - Catocala blandula Charming Underwing - Catocala blandula Charming Underwing? - Catocala blandula Charming Underwing - Catocala blandula Charming Underwing - Catocala blandula crataegi/blandula/mira - Catocala blandula Catocala crataegi or blandula? - Catocala blandula Catocala blandula  - Catocala blandula
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
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 blandula (Charming Underwing - Hodges#8867)
Hodges Number
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Catocala blandula Hulst, 1884 (1), (2), (3)
Catocala blandula var. manitobensis Cassino, 1918 (81), (3)
Explanation of Names
Specific epithet from Latin meaning "charming, pleasant."
Wingspan 42-50 mm. (4)
Adult - AM and PM lines meet near inner margin. Brown basal shade, and black border of HW usually not broken.
Nova Scotia west to central Alberta, south to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. (4)
July to August.
Larval hosts are apple, serviceberry and hawthorn. (5)
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.
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.41; Pl.10, f.1; Pl.14, f.12 (larva). (2)
Hulst, G.D., 1884. The genus Catocala. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 7(1): 38. (1)
Muller, J., 1981. Polymorphism in the larvae of Catocala blandula (Noctuidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 35(1): 78-79.