Sad Underwing

What a stupid common name for Catocala maestosa. This fabulous riot of patterning isn’t sad.
Methinks the guy who came up with a lot of the common names for our moths, especially the underwings — the Girlfriend, Sweetheart, Magdalen, Once-Married, Mother, Semirelict, Darling, Bride, Tearful, Widow, Obscure, Betrothed, Penitent — had some issues, as they say.

Almost two inches long. Saw it land out of the corner of my eye on the side of a tree a squirrel had just been clambering up. Perhaps it was riled and flushed out of more secure spot by the squirrel; there was a nice hole in a rotted knot just below it. Thought for a moment it might be a cicada because of the size. I wasn’t expecting this. In fact, it’s rare for Long Island. The species seems to be expanding its territory northwards as we become more tropical. This is now the only NYC record on iNaturalist.
Look at those tufty curls…

I’m afraid I’ve been worse-case-scenario type for a while now, so when I read “If anything, the impacts of climate change are proving to be worse than we predicted,” I feel like I’m already on that page. This from a new study on the growing layers of warm water in the oceans, which will “intensify tropical storms, disrupt fisheries, interfere with the ocean absorption of carbon and deplete oxygen.”

3 Responses to “Sad Underwing”

  1. 1 njmotmot October 1, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    My theory has always been that there are so many moth species, they just couldn’t think of enough reasonable names and had to go with silly ones. That or they were drunk at naming time. It’s a very pretty, understated moth. I’ve caught other Catocala but not that one.

  2. 2 Chuck McAlexander October 1, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Qualifies as an analog to birding’s brown creeper: bark that moves. Gray creeper perhaps?

    • 3 mthew October 2, 2020 at 8:28 am

      NJMOTMOT’s comment raises the problem: there are soooo many moths out there! 1000s of species in North America. Maybe we should skip the common names and stick to binomials. Moth folks, who joke that that far fewer butterfly species are just moths that fly during the day, also have a numbering system, each species is given a Hodges#. This one is Hodges#8793.

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