8822a orion

Orion Underwing

Catocala orion McDunnough, 1922

Family: Erebidae

Status: Occasional resident

Range: Found in the northern half of the United States and southern Canada. Absent west of the Rockies.

Larval Hostplant(s): Poplars, Cottonwoods (Populus) and Willows (Salix).

NENHP Ranking: Not listed.

Broods/Flight Times: One flight late in the season (late August into October)

Habitat: Riparian areas with hostplants.

Avg. Wingspan: Larger sized, 2 1/2 – 3 inches

Found at: Rowe Sanctuary

Overwintering: As an egg on the hostplant.

Identification: FW ground color cool grey, rather evenly stippled with black and white; PM line often single (at least in leading half of wing) with no white border on distal side; subreniform spot and area basal to reniform spot form a continuous whitish patch with a thin dark vein running through the middle. HW banded black and reddish-orange; black median band sharply angled at the middle.

Similar Species: Very similar to Meske’s Underwing but individuals of C. orion are slightly smaller than Meske’s and tend to have narrower forewings, with a cooler grey forewing color more heavily stippled with black and white.  The black band on the hindwing is more sharply angled in its middle.  The Orion Underwing flies distinctly later in the season than Meske’s, often far into October. (1)

Notes: For quite some time this species has been in a taxonomic “limbo”. Since being described it was frequently listed as a subspecies of C. meskeii. Recently however, C. orion was elevated back to full species status. Nebraska records represented on our distribution map have been verified by Dr. Lawrence Gall of the Peabody Museum at Yale University. Identifying features illustrated.

🔗Links: Internet searches for C. orion all lead to images/references of C. meskei.

Literature Cited: (1) Dr. Lawrence Gall, personal communication.

Orion Underwing with pupa
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