New York Natural Heritage Program
Waxed Sallow
Chaetaglaea cerata Franclemont, 1943

General Description [-]
A remarkably non-variable moth easily identified from a specimen by anyone familiar with the Noctuidae family of moths. Separation from the common and variable moth, Chaetaglaea sericea, might be difficult or impossible from a field photo taken under artificial light at night. All accepted records for new sites should be based on collected specimens.

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
See illustrations such as Rings et al. (1992), Handfield (1999), or the key in Frobes (1954). The forewing is distinctive. Note the grayish ground color, the slightly reddish (rust color) lines, the median line crossing the reniform (a particular spot on the wing), the rounded reniform and orbicular spots which are well defined with paler outlines and of similar size, and the lack of any small black dot in the former. The wing veins are not partially pale. There is almost no variation in color and very minimal variation in markings. Compare to Chaetaglaea sericea, which usually is immediately separable by the dot in the reniform, but is sometimes about the same color. The larva has not been described or illustrated, but is more prominently striped than related species.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]

Behavior [-]
Unlike almost all cool season Noctuidae, this one very seldom comes to baits. It is usually collected at blacklights or mercury vapor lights within a couple hours after sunset. This species was very largely overlooked before the introduction of blacklights.

Diet [-]
The adults may not feed much, other than sipping water, but this is not known. Larvae feed on spring growth, apparently on scrub oak, other small oaks, and blueberry. The larvae seem to prefer species of cherry if present.
Waxed Sallow Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
The adults occur in October, with some likely present by the end of September and persisting into November on Long Island. The eggs overwinter and hatch shortly after the oaks leaf out in late April or early May. The larval stage is probably about five or six weeks in the wild, but will vary with temperature. The larvae must mature while still soft foliage is available and likely mature by approximately 10 June.
Reproducing Larvae present and active Eggs present outside adult Pupae or prepupae present
The time of year you would expect to find Waxed Sallow reproducing (red shading), larvae present and active (blue shading), eggs present outside adult (green shading) and pupae or prepupae present (orange shading) in New York.