Common Looper Moth

2017 March 1

This rather lumpy-looking moth with prominent white spots came to our porch light on August 1, 2016.


The tufts of fuzz on the shoulders and back are pretty good at breaking up the outline, and making it look more like a bark chip than a moth.



The white spots on the wings seem a bit counterproductive for camouflage, though. They stand out. Then again, they do look a bit like mold spots, and moist bark often has mold, so maybe it actually does help with the disguise.


The tufts and the white spots pretty much narrow it down to being one of the Looper Moths in the subfamily Plusiinae. They are called “loopers” because they have inchworm-type caterpillars that are missing most of the middle prolegs, and crawl by scrunching up into a “loop” and then extending their head. However, it turns out that they are not in the same family as most other inchworms (the geometrids). Loopers are actually a separate group within the Owlet Moths (Noctuidae), and are more closely related to cutworms.

After mulling over the pictures, I think that this particular specimen is a Common Looper, Autographa precationis. While it does also look quite a bit like the similar Soybean Looper, Chrysodeixis includens, the color of that one isn’t quite right.

Anyway, the common looper caterpillar eats a lot of non-grass herbaceous plants like the numerous plants in the Aster family, the many relatives of cabbage, and plantains. Probably among many others. When I go sweep-netting in the tall grass, there are usually a wide variety of unidentifiable green caterpillars, and a lot of them are probably these.

One Response
  1. March 1, 2017

    Maybe the white spots aren’t helpful at all and the whole design is just a collection of mistakes that somehow made it to the production floor. Sort of the Edsel of moths.

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