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The Colorful Zale is extremely variable in color and pattern. It has a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches. The forewing can be dark gray, brown to black usually with tan or yellow in the median area. There are black patches at the apex. The hindwings are dark tan, brown and black. There is usually a distinct black tooth underlined with pale tan on the postmedian line that projects into the subterminal area. This moth is very similar to the Lunate Zale (Zale lunata) and in some cases they cannot be distinguished from each other. The Colorful Zale is usually smaller, more mottled and more brightly marked. The larvae eat the leaves of basswood, birch, elm, oak and willow. The mature larva grow to about 1 5/8 inches long. They are highly variable and easily confused with Lunate Zale larvae. They are gray, tan, brown or almost black. The pattern can be uniformly colored to striped or heavily mottled. The mature caterpillars are found in June and July.
The frequency of occurrence is not known. This one was taken near the porch light of my suburban home in Antelope California USA.
Spotted on May 18, 2012
Submitted on May 18, 2012