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False Underwing (Allotria elonympha)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the False Underwing

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A bright flash of orange on the hindwings of the False Underwing is usually hidden under its larger forewings.

Updated: 11/06/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Unlike most Underwings, the False Underwing has only a single, wide black band on its orange-yellow hindwings. This flash of color is best seen when the moth is at rest and flattens its wings. The abdomen also has hints of this yellow color on the otherwise gray body. The forewings of this species can be highly varied in shade and hue, but most have dark brown and/or black coloring near the head with a lighter middle area that shows off a black dot on each wing. A black outline in the shape of a bean sits just below the dot. Below these marks, the forewing darkens again in waves of brown and black. All wings have a checkered fringe.

Larvae feed on the leaves of black gum, hickory, and walnut trees. They are long, slender and brown, blending in with the woody branches they move along. Look for adults from spring through the beginning of autumn in areas near woodlands and deciduous forests.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Allotria
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            Species: elonympha
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Allotria elonympha
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 33mm to 44mm (1.29" to 1.73")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, black, gray, orange, tan
Descriptors: bean-shaped reniform spot, black orange wing, checkered fringe, flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 33mm (1.3in) and 44mm (1.7in)
Lo: 33mm
Md: 38.5mm
Hi: 44mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the False Underwing may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the False Underwing. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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