Green Arches Moth

2015 February 18

Here’s a very convincing lichen-mimic moth that came to the porch light on July 6, 2014. If it had been on a lichen-covered tree trunk instead of on the concrete around our front door, I doubt that I would have spotted it.

These next pictures are on a white background to give better contrast. It also closed up its wings a bit more, making it look narrower.

I eventually found a match for it in “Moths of Eastern North America”, but only after going through practically the whole book (it was only 4 photo plates from the end). I think it is the Green Arches moth, Anaplectoides prasina. Their caterpillars eat a lot of things, including honeysuckle, cranberry, apple, poplar, currants, knotweed, and probably a bunch of other random plants we have around[1]. It evidently is cold-tolerant enough to have crossed over between North America and Asia, so it is found all around the cooler parts of the northern hemisphere. It looks like the wing coloration varies quite a bit, but the green stripes are characteristic at least in North America.

[1] The very next entry in “Moths of Eastern North America” showed one of its close relatives with the foodplant “Corn Salad”. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Does this mean that it eats the green parts (“salad”) of corn? Or does it mean that one of the authors found a caterpillar in their corn salad at a picnic? Or does it mean that they eat this plant, which I had never heard of before doing a search on the string “corn salad” just now? I suppose it is probably that last one.

4 Responses
  1. February 18, 2015

    Very cool! Green is a pretty rare color in moths, no? I wonder what compound it has to make it that green color. A copper derivative or just chlorophyll?

  2. Carole permalink
    February 18, 2015

    They were safe until we moved in with our electric lights.

  3. February 18, 2015

    ooh! ooh! *waves hand in air* Call on me! I finally have something helpful to contribute!

    Corn salad’s another name for mache, aka lamb’s lettuce, a garden green. Back in the 80’s, when arugula was known as plain old rocket and before mixed baby greens were known as mesclun, corn salad was one of the greens one grew for a trendier garden than Green Ice leaf lettuce. Also

  4. February 19, 2015

    KT: It is kind of weird, but yes, whle a lot of caterpillars are green, it is less common in adult moths. Here is a good description of the many ways that butterflies and moths get green coloration in their wings. It sounds like they do it lots of different ways, ranging from using optical tricks to get interference colors to various bile pigments, but the one thing that they evidently don’t do is take chlorophyll from the plants and use it for a pigment themselves.

    Anne: Thanks! That clears up the whole “corn salad” question nicely.

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