Darling Underwing Moth - Catocala cara
Family Noctuidae
. Hodges#8832
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Live adult moths photographed at northern Illinois.
Darling Underwing Moth
This huge (about 3" across) moth got into my house one night and furiously flapped around for awhile before settling on, of all places, the box my camera came in. I took a few impromptu photos and then carefully cupped the moth in my hands and released it outdoors. It left dark dusty smudges on me.  What a beautiful creature to come calling - but I could imagine this dark thing flapping madly about might be mistaken for a bat, and scare the crap out of some folks.

Underwing moths most often pose with their forewings held together over the back (below), hiding the boldly-colored underwings. The fanciful common names of moths in this genus (Sweetheart, darling, newlywed, the girlfriend, et al) apparently stems from the fact Carl Linnaeus himself named some of his earliest species in a female-loved-one / marriage theme which later species authors continued. [1]

Underwings moth caterpillars feed on plants in the Family Salicaceae (willows, cottonwoods, poplars).

Darling Underwing Moth
References
  1. Troy Bartlett, Mike Boone, cotinis, Robin McLeod, Bugguide.net, "Genus Catocala - Underwings"
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Order Lepidoptera: Moths. Unlike the butterflies, moths are usually nocturnal. Many moths and their caterpillars are major agricultural pests in large parts of the world. Moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabrics, clothes and blankets made from natural fibers such as wool or silk. Moths in the genus Farinalis feed on stored grain, flour, corn meal and other milled grain products.
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