Catocala nymphaea

Catocala nymphaea

Catocala nymphaea (= Ephesia nymphaea) is a moth from the family Noctuidae, the largest one in order Lepidoptera. It measures roughly 5 cm wingspan. Usually it displays just the back of the forewings with a camouflage pattern of dark tones, when in rest position. It’s almost impossible to see it on the bark of trees. However, from time to time, forewings allow to see a surprising bright orange with black strips on the hindwings. The body is thick and hairy, same color than forewings. The antennae are short and narrow. Sexes are not apparent.

The caterpillar outstands by its round, big head and by their robust abdominal pseudopodia that hold on firmly on plants. Caterpillars of Catocala nymphae feed on green oak leaves. They may be a pest in oak and cork woods. The 2nd picture displays the caterpillar on one orchid.

Catocala nymphaea, as many moths, is attracted by light. Often at night it goes into houses, as seen in the 1st image, though without any benefit.

The genus Catocala is quite large with several species living in Catalonia. One near to C.nymphaea species is C.nymphagoga; both feeding on green oak leaves.

[photos Jordi Badia (1st) and Marta Queralt López (2nd)]