Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's moth season

This interesting creature, upon whose back near its head I see a face, is I believe, a Catocala Moth called Catocala unijuga or Once-married Underwing. (What a great name - have to do more research about that one.)

It had landed outside underneath the lantern beside my door one evening recently.

It's much bigger than many of the moths that I've seen flying around the house attracted by lights inside during the evening. But not as big as the Cecropia, Polyphemus or Luna moths, none of which I've seen in a long time.

I wondered what kind of moth it was, seemed to see a face on its back and because I recently found those dagger moth caterpillars - (which by the way have gone on to make cocoons in the maple trees all over the bush - goodness knows what the bush will be like next year when the moths climb out and begin the cycle again) - anyway, I've become interested in moths but they are hard to identify.

Then this one spread it's wings after I'd used the flash from the camera.

Blurry but nonetheless easier to identify than the rather drab face-backed moth above. It quicky flew away so I was unable to get another photograph.

Underwings are apparently late summer or early fall moths. This is one of them. I've been unable to determine why it is called Once-Married Underwing. It seems these moths have lots of names related to relationships - such as Sweetheart Underwing, Mother Underwing and so on.

The Catocala genus is one of a larger family of owlet moths. There is a book about their caterpillars and they are also included in the Peterson Field Guide to Moths, which has a fairly new edition.

Looks like I'm going to go book shopping for guides to a whole bunch of things soon. I have insect guides but they don't explain the moths and the HUGE variety of bugs and other insects.

Lately I've been noticing the smaller things around me. Big sunsets and sunrises too, but somehow the little insects, the snails, dragonflies, tiny fish among the huge ones in my pond have been capturing my attention. Makes me realize what a fascinating place this world is if we take time to pay attention - don't you think?


  1. This is interesting. We have this moth around here. Lately I've been noticing an abundance of caterpillars, the wooly bears have a very narrow stripe!

  2. Wonderful post, Barbara, I'm trying to figure out what this species is. If I do, I'll leave another comment.

    On a different subject, I was wondering if you know about eButterfly, its like eBird, but for butterflies. I'm trying to submit checklists regularly, it's very helpful to learn about different butterflies species in your area, I thought you might like if you don't know about it already!


    1. Thank you both for stopping by - the Once-Married Underwing is indeed the name of this moth and it will be like the caterpillar that I posted a week or so ago, chowing down on nut trees and maples in the spring.

      I didn't know about ebutterfly, but will look it up. We have the last few monarchs, cabbage and alfalfa butterflies still around, as well as some medium sized yellow ones, but most of the rest, the mourning cloaks etc have left by now or are cocooned.

      The world of insects is certainly fascinating.