Dark and Light Geometrids

2016 December 28

Some of the most common moths coming to our porch light on June 25-30, 2016 were a variety of small moth species that were clearly in the family Geometridae. They all had the same general pose and wing shape, but radically different colors. Some were almost white:


Others were darker, almost black:


And still others were dark gray-and-green:




The first, white one is pretty obviously a different species, but the darker one and the greener one may just be more-or-less green members of the same species. As to what species that might be, well, you’ve got me there, I’m afraid. I’m not really seeing any features to point to that will allow me to say, “This one!”. There are a lot of white geometrids, and black/gray ones, and varying shades of green ones, and I’m just not getting anywhere. Especially since I expect that, being unexciting-looking moths, they might not have had pictures posted anywhere yet.

After posting on BugGuide, I have potential IDs: For the whiter one: Jacob Gorneau thinks that it is in the genus Melanolophia, and that the best candidates are either Melanolophia canadaria or Melanolophia signataria. Whichever it is, these are both native species that feed on a variety of our common trees. As for the darker one and the greener one, Libby and Rick Avis think they could be Pasiphila rectangulata, which is another European import. These have caterpillars that feed on the buds and blossoms of apples, cherries, and their relatives. Which isn’t actually likely to be a problem, because if they knock out some of the blossoms before they set fruit, then the tree will have the resources to make the remaining fruit larger and more delicious. So, they aren’t entirely a pest.

Comments are closed.