Q:

What is an underwing moth?

A:

Quick Answer

An underwing moth is a flying insect belonging to the genus Catocala. They have brightly colored and boldly pattered hindwings. When at rest, the dull grayish brown fore wings mask the boldly colored hindwings underneath, which is why the moth is called the underwing.

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Full Answer

The bold hind wings are used for threat displays. When disturbed, an underwing lifts its dull fore wings to reveal the flashy wings underneath. The forewings provide excellent camouflage when the moth is at rest on tree bark, and the sudden contrast is meant to startle predators. Most underwing species are native to North America, though they can also be found in Europe and Asia. There are numerous different color forms, making species identification difficult. Many species have fanciful common names, such as the Inconsolable, Once-Married and Sweetheart Underwing.

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