Fun Ilia Underwing Moth Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Ilia Underwing Moth Facts For Kids

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The ilia underwing moth is known by the scientific name Catocala ilia and belongs to a species of a moth under the family Erebidae. The moth was first distinguished by Peter Cramer in 1776, found in southern Canada and the United States. 

This insect is found in deciduous and coniferous forests, abundant with oak trees. The moth is deep brown or gray in color with wavy lines in their forewings and hindwings, resembling tree bark while their wings are bright orange, yellow, or red in color with distinct dark patterns. The species is commonly known by a few other names including, the old wife underwing, tearful underwing, joined underwing, and beloved underwing. 

It has been reported that more than 60 species of the Catocala moths are present in Missouri, North America, and other similar locations. As for the caterpillars, they have cylindrical flat bark-like patterns and humps that help them camouflage. The moth is nocturnal in nature and feeds during the night. Similar species can include the Moon-lined moth with similar features in appearance. The species are oak-lovers and surround themselves with the same environment. They are mostly seen during the summer season around the months of June-August.

If you love reading about such wonderful insects, then check out spotted hawk moth facts and puss moth facts!

Fun Ilia Underwing Moth Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Deciduous trees, oak leaves

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.0001-0.4 oz (0.003-12 g)

How long are they?

1.22-1.45 in (31-37 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown-gray, pink, black bands

Skin Type

Hairy wings

What were their main threats?

Habitat Loss

What is their conservation status?

Not Extinct

Where you'll find them?

Woodlands, Oak Forests, Deciduous Forests


North America And Central America









Ilia Underwing Moth Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an ilia underwing moth? 

Catocala ilia is a type of insect under the animal kingdom from the family of Erebidae.

What class of animal does an ilia underwing moth belong to? 

The Catocala ilia belong to the Insecta class of animals under the order Lepidoptera from the family of Eribidae.

How many ilia underwing moths are there in the world?

Catocala ilia are common and abundant in population so it can be estimated that along with their 160,000 species their population count is more than thousands around their habitats.

Where does an ilia underwing moth live? 

Catocala ilia are usually seen thriving in the Pacific northwest abundant with oak forests and woodlands. Locations including North America, western Oregon, Washington, north Olympia, Cascade mountains, Klamath county, and Klickitat county are among the species usual habitats. Globally, the moth is distributed widely around eastern hardwood forests from the Gulf Coast to southern Canada along with Florida. However, the same is not seen in the western and southern Rocky Mountains and California.  

What is an ilia underwing moth's habitat? 

The ilia underwing moth's habitat includes coniferous and deciduous forests, wherever there is an abundance of oak trees at lower and middle elevations. The moth species is quite sensitive to its food management, which is why it depends highly on its natural habitat for food intakes that consists of oak tree barks and its leaves. 

Who do ilia underwing moths live with?

The Catocala ilia are individually bred from their initial larval stage and are seen alone in the bark of trees. They might be seen around with their partners during the breeding season, but they are usually found alone. 

How long does an ilia underwing moth live?

All the species under the genus Catocala are single-brooded, feeding on oaks from their larval stage and survive winters in their egg forms. Underwings hatch around the springtime and then grow through all of their stages before they can finally fly away as a result of which their life span is estimated to be about 65-90 days. 

How do they reproduce?

Mating rituals usually begin when the females start attracting their partners by producing pheromones, right before she comes out of her pupa. Males with large feathery antennae form a courting swarm over their chosen partner and dance around her by showcasing their bright colors and wings. After the successful mating ritual, they copulate by fitting their genital structures together. The breeding occurs in phases as they have to go through a couple of cycles before they turn into adults. The cycle includes the larval stage, pupa stage, caterpillar stage, and finally the stage where they become adults. 

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the moth is termed Not Extinct or Unknown. However, there is no extreme threat to the species' existence as it is one of the most abundant underwings in the world. 

Ilia Underwing Moth Fun Facts

What do ilia underwing moths look like?

Moth of deep brown with wavy lines in forewings facts

The species forewing is usually brownish-gray or pale tan in color. It has wavy asymmetrical lines that are quite similar to the brown patterns of tree bark. The hindwings are bright orange, yellow, pink, or red in color with bold dark patterns. The black markings on its hindwings can differ from one species to another which is why it is quite difficult to distinguish each one of them. 

Now as for the caterpillar's identification, they are different from inchworms as they have more abdominal prolegs. They have flat cylindrical bodies with bark-like patterns on their top and dorsal sides. The caterpillars are strong jumpers and usually eat at night. 

How cute are they?

The moths camouflage quite well with trees and look like little butterflies with their orange, black, and mixture of other colors, as a result of which they look cute. As for their caterpillar form, it looks like a worm but still has its own charm that we think is slightly cute. 

How do they communicate?

Butterflies and moths usually use their wings, bold patterns, and pheromones in their various communicative methods. They are quite active during the day but are known to deliver special visual signals for communication during the night. Being nocturnal in nature, they are also reported to give out chemical signals during the mating season. 

How big is an ilia underwing moth?

An ilia underwing (Catocala ilia) moth can grow up to 1.22-1.45 in (31-37 mm) in length.

How fast can ilia underwing moths move?

The exact speed rate of an ilia underwing (Catocala ilia) moth is not known but it can be estimated to an average speed of 33.5 mph (54 kph), similar to the other moth species like the gypsy moth.

How much does an ilia underwing moth weigh?

An ilia underwing (Catocala ilia) moth weighs about 0.0001-0.4 oz (0.003-12 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the moth depending on its sex.

What would you call a baby ilia underwing moth?

Almost all butterflies and moths undergo a range of life cycles, their names change according to their current phase. So, when they are at their larval stage they are referred to as a larva or larvae, and then later on they are called a caterpillar, a pupa, and finally an adult. 

What do they eat? 

They are quite fond of oak trees and live on the leaves and bark. Being herbivorous in nature the moth is a constant prey to other predators such as birds and bats

Are they harmful?

Many of the genus Catocala are toxic in nature and produce poisonous venom when threatened. However, these moths produce no such thing which makes it quite easy to hunt for their predators. At the same time, they are harmless and cannot inflict any harm. 

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they would be a good companion as a pet but since they are wild moths, taking them away from their natural habitat would not be a good decision as they require a specific temperature, humidity, and other food intake amount that they can only experience in the wild according to their life cycle. However, if you still wish to keep one, then we suggest you do your research well and try to give it a natural environment as much as possible.

Did you know...

The adult moths are experts in disguise as they possess the perfect camouflage patterns all over their wings which helps them to disguise themselves whenever they are threatened. But, their larval counterparts can do the same thing as well! Caterpillars have a variety of greens and grays that helps them disguise themselves within lichens. In this way, they can disappear right before your eyes. 

Not to forget, the moths were once part of the Noctuid family consisting of American daggers, millers, dart moths, cutworms, armyworms, owlets, and many more. The same was separated once it was shown that they belong to the families of tiger lichen and milkweed tussock moths. 

The male vs. female ilia underwing moth

Even though both the sexes look similar to one another, there is a range of differences in each one of them which makes it easier to distinguish one from the other. This includes the difference in length of the male and female antennas which is much more decorated and longer in males than that of a female. Also, the males have a longer pattern or marking in the middle of their forewing whereas the females have a pale mark. They also have a bigger abdomen size to carry eggs along with larger wings than those of their adult male counterparts.

Are underwing moths bad?

Most moths are venomous but not all of them exhibit an aggressive nature. Out of the 165,000 moth species that have been reported, only a few of them are capable of hurting human beings and inflicting major injuries that may cause a few allergic reactions and some very toxic ones but most of the other species are harmless and do not exhibit any kind of dangerous habits. Hence, not all of them are bad but it is good to be cautious and knowledgeable about a particular species. 

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our dragonfly facts and morpho butterfly facts for kids

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing in one of our free printable ilia underwing moth coloring pages.

Main image by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren.

Second image by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren.

Written By
Kidadl Team

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