Comstock’s Sallow is a medium sized Noctuid moth (FW 16-18mm) of coniferous forests, with a mostly green forewing that is more blunt at the apex than that of most species in this genus. The costa and wing margin are checkered black and white. The orbicular spot is black and white, round, and filled with the ground color. The reniform spot is also black and white and filled by ground color. The transverse lines are black and white and jagged. The median area is shaded by varying levels of black.
All of our Feralia spp look similar, and fly in spring. Feralia comstocki can be differentiated from all of them by the combination of dark suffusion in the median area, mottled dark and light hindwing, and blunt wing apex.
The larvae feed on members of Pinaceae (conifers), including spruces, true firs, hemlocks, and Douglas Fir. They only fly from early April to mid May, which is a shorter flight period than our other Feralia. They can be found west of the Cascades down to northern California, and in the forested areas east of the Columbia River Basin as far south as the Blue Mtns of Oregon.
Feralia means ‘festival of the dead’ in Latin, but I can’t seem to ascertain how that applies to these moths. The species epithet honors John Henry Comstock (1849-1931), an entomologist whose studies on morphology, and especially wing venation, formed the basis for classification of many winged insects. He was married to the artist and naturalist Anna Botsford Comstock, who was influential in her own right as one of the founders of the Nature Study Movement, which sought to combine scientific investigations with spiritual and aesthetic ideals, to create a more broad based appreciation of the natural world.
Size- FW length 16-18 mm
Habitat- Mesic coniferous forests
Range- Cascades and west down to northern California, and south through the Blue Mtns in the forests of the eastern part of our region.
Eats- Larvae feed on Douglas Fir, hemlock, spruce and truefirs.
Flight Season- Early April to mid May