Geometer Moth: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

Geometer moths, often referred to as inchworm moths or spanworm moths, are a diverse and fascinating group found in various habitats. These moths display a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them a captivating subject for nature enthusiasts and researchers alike.

One unique feature about geometrid caterpillars is their distinctive movement. As the familiar inchworms, these caterpillars lack several midbody legs, causing them to form a loop when moving source. Adult geometer moths, on the other hand, have slender bodies, broad wings, and intricate wavy patterns that are often continuous between the forewings and hindwings source.

Some interesting facts about geometer moths:

  • Great diversity in color, shape, and size
  • Often showcase camouflage coloration and patterns
  • Adults have slender bodies and broad wings

Overview of Geometer Moths

Classification

Geometer Moths belong to the family Geometridae within the order Lepidoptera. They are part of the class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda, and kingdom Animalia. The family Geometridae has over 23,000 species of moths worldwide.

Scientific Background

Geometer Moths are also known as inchworm moths due to their larvae’s unique way of moving. The larvae, called inchworms or loopers, have a distinctive looping movement. They are found in various habitats, such as forests, meadows, and gardens.

Some features of Geometer Moths include:

  • Wings with various shapes and patterns
  • Thin bodies
  • Long antennae
  • Nocturnal behavior

Some characteristics of Geometer Moth larvae (inchworms) are:

  • Lack of prolegs in the middle of the body
  • Unique looping movement
  • Camouflage coloring
Feature Geometer Moths Other Moths
Body shape Thin Varies
Antennae Long Can be short or long
Larval prolegs Absent in middle Usually present
Larval movement Looping Crawling

Geometer Moths are fascinating creatures to study. Their diverse species, patterns, and inchworm larvae make them a unique group within the Lepidoptera order.

Physical Characteristics

Wings and Abdomen

Geometer moth adults have thin bodies and display a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Their wings are usually held flat and spread out to the sides1. The intricate wavy patterns on the wings often continue from the forewings to the hindwings2.

For example, the Chickweed Geometer has pointed, dull yellow wings with pinkish or reddish bands that parallel the edges.

Caterpillars and Larvae

Geometer moth caterpillars are commonly known as inchworms, spanworms, loopers, or measuring worms2. These caterpillars have a distinct way of moving by using their prolegs. They lack prolegs in the middle of their body, so they move by forming loops with their bodies2.

Inchworms Spanworms
Movement Looping Looping
Prolegs Reduced in the middle Reduced in the middle
Larvae Geometer moth caterpillars Geometer moth caterpillars
Appearance Elongated Elongated

Features of Geometer Moth Caterpillars in Bullet Points:

  • Known as: inchworms, spanworms, loopers, or measuring worms
  • Move by forming loops
  • Reduced prolegs in the middle
  • Elongated appearance

Behavior and Habitats

Locomotion

Geometer moths have a unique way of moving when they are in their caterpillar stage. They are also known as “inchworms” or “looper caterpillars” because of their looping movement.

  • They extend their front end forward
  • They then pull their hind end up to the front end
  • Tail and head touch while their body forms a loop

Feeding Habits and Diet

Geometer moth caterpillars have specific feeding preferences, often consuming the leaves of certain types of plants. For instance, the colorful chickweed geometer moth feeds on chickweed plants.

Diet includes:

  • Leaves from trees, bushes, and other plants
  • Sometimes fruits or other plant parts

Life Cycle

Geometer moths progress through four life stages, like other moths:

  1. Egg – Laid on host plants
  2. Caterpillar – Feeding and growing
  3. Pupa – A resting stage for transformation
  4. Adult – Reproduction and egg-laying

Some geometer moths have multiple generations in a year, while others have only one.

Life Stages Duration
Egg Few days
Caterpillar Weeks
Pupa Weeks
Adult Weeks

Distribution and Range

Geometrid moths can be found in various habitats. They exhibit a wide range of distribution patterns across the globe. Let’s examine their distribution and range in detail.

  • These moths are abundant in temperate and tropical regions.
  • They are less common in arctic and subarctic areas.
  • Greater diversity is observed in the tropics.

The distribution of geometrid moths can be influenced by factors such as:

  • Climate: Warmer climates tend to support more species.
  • Ecosystem: Forests, grasslands, and wetlands offer suitable habitats.

Some examples of geometrid moth distribution are:

  • North America has around 1,400 species.
  • Europe is home to approximately 1,000 species.

Comparing the distribution of geometrid moths in these regions, we can observe:

Region Number of Species Climate Type Notable Habitats
North America ~1,400 Temperate & Tropical Forests, Wetlands
Europe ~1,000 Temperate Forests, Grasslands

In conclusion, geometrid moths have diverse distribution patterns, adapting to various habitats and climate conditions. Their range spans different continents, showcasing the adaptability of these fascinating insects.

Notable Species and Pests

Peppered Moth and Its Significance

The peppered moth (Biston betularia) is a well-studied example of natural selection. This moth exists in both a light and dark form, with the latter being better adapted in polluted environments due to its camouflage on soot-darkened trees.

  • The light form was more common before the Industrial Revolution.
  • The dark form became dominant as pollution increased.

This ultimately led scientists to understand the significance of adaptation and evolution in various species.

Harmful Impact of Certain Species

Some geometrid moths, like the fall cankerworms and the curve-toothed geometer, can be pests, impacting plant life and the surrounding ecosystem.

Fall Cankerworms:

  • Caterpillars feed on the buds and leaves of deciduous trees.
  • Infestations can lead to defoliation.

Curve-toothed Geometer:

  • Larvae devour the foliage of various broadleaf trees and shrubs.
  • May cause weakening or even death of host plants.

On the other hand, geometrid moths like the wavy-lined emerald, orange wing, chickweed geometer, and great bark geometer are harmless and contribute to the natural ecosystem’s biodiversity.

Notable Geometrid Moths

Species Significance
Peppered Moth Well-studied example of natural selection, adaptive camouflage
Fall Cankerworms Pest species, can cause defoliation in trees
Curve-toothed Geometer Pest species, can cause weakening or death of host plants
Wavy-lined Emerald Harmless species, contributes to biodiversity
Orange Wing Harmless species, contributes to biodiversity
Chickweed Geometer Harmless species, distinctive appearance
Great Bark Geometer Harmless species, contributes to biodiversity

Popular Species in Geometer Moth Family

The Geometer Moth family, also known as Geometridae, is a diverse group of moths with thousands of species. In this section, we’ll briefly cover some popular species within this family, such as Biston betularia, Ennominae, Idaea biselata, Scopula decorata, and Rhodometra sacraria.

Biston betularia, also known as the Peppered Moth, is a well-known species for its color-changing abilities. It varies from light to dark coloration, allowing it to blend in with tree bark. The change in coloration resulted from adaptation to industrial pollution.

Ennominae is a large subfamily within Geometridae, with about 9,700 described species. These moths exhibit a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. The Brown-bordered Geometer and the Tulip-tree Beauty are two fascinating examples of Ennominae moths.

Idaea biselata, or the Small Fan-footed Wave, is a small moth with a wingspan of about 17-22 millimeters. It has brown and cream-colored wavy markings on its wings, providing excellent camouflage on tree bark.

Scopula decorata, also known as the Decorated Beauty, is a moth with intricate and attractive patterns on its wings. The markings often resemble lichen, enabling the moth to blend with its surroundings.

Rhodometra sacraria, or the Vestal, is a striking moth species with striking pink and white markings on its wings. It is migratory and can be found across a wide geographic range.

The table below compares the mentioned species.

Species Main Feature Wingspan Range Cool Fact
Biston betularia Color-changing 35-60mm Adapted to industrial pollution
Ennominae Diverse group Varies 9,700 species
Idaea biselata Small and camouflaged 17-22mm Camouflage expert
Scopula decorata Attractive patterns 18-23mm Mimics lichen
Rhodometra sacraria Pink and white markings 20-25mm Migratory species

In conclusion, the Geometer Moth family is diverse and fascinating, with many unique species showcasing different adaptations and features.

Literature and Science References

The Geometer moth, commonly known as the peppered moth, is an excellent example of natural selection in action. As a globally widespread geometrid species, its populations, color, and patterns have evolved over time to adapt to varying environments1.

  • Literature: Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory
  • Science: Evolutionary biology
  • References: Research journals, biology textbooks, scientific articles

In the 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution in Europe, previously rare dark-colored forms of Geometer moths became dominant3. This occurrence is widely studied and documented in both literature and scientific research, serving as a testament to its evolutionary importance.

Comparison of Light and Dark Geometer Moths

Characteristic Light Geometer Moth Dark Geometer Moth
Color Light, camouflaged Dark, sooty
Habitat Lichen-covered Industrial areas
Prevalence Before Industrial Revolution During/After Industrial Revolution

Some notable features of Geometer moths include:

  • Thin body
  • Wide wings usually spread flat out to the sides
  • Diverse color, shape, and size
  • Camouflage coloration and patterns4

In order to further explore these fascinating creatures, lovers of literature and science can refer to various sources such as:

Footnotes

  1. Geometrid Moths | Missouri Department of Conservation 2

  2. Family Geometridae – ENT 425 – General Entomology 2 3

  3. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/geometrid-moths

  4. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/geometrid-moths

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Green Geometrid Moth from New Zealand

 

what’s this NZ moth please?
Sun, May 24, 2009 at 1:03 AM
Hi, can you tell us what NZ moth this is? Found it in Tauranga in the evening. Very bright green with long tail. about 25-30mm long.
saskia
Tauranga NZ

Unknown New Zealand Moth
Tatosoma tipulata? from Zealand Moth

Dear Saskia,
We haven’t had much luck identifying your unusual moth, but perhaps one of our readers can supply
an answer.

Update: Mon, May 25, 2009 at 10:31 AM
Daniel:
Hopefully someone who is familiar with New Zealand moths can confirm this identification, but I believe this curious looking moth is Tatosoma tipulata (Geometridae: Larentiinae), or at least a species in that genus. The few online pictures are of dried specimens and the colors look more brown than green, but there are descriptions that suggest “greenish” coloration on the forewings. The long abdomen is the most curious and distinguishing feature. Dr. Robert Hoare provides a rather poetic and humorous description in The Weta 28: 56-59 (2004) .weta28_56_59 He notes that the Latin name literally translated means “Long body like cranefly”. Regards.
Karl

Dear Karl,
Thanks once again for assisting us in the identification of unusual exotica from far flung global coordinates. This ID sure seems correct to us. Perhaps you will have an opinion on the Brazilian insect with the feathery antennae we are about to post.
Daniel

Letter 2 – Australian Geometrid Moth: Epidesmia tricolor

 

Australian Moth
Location: Sydney’s Northern Beaches
December 5, 2011 7:54 pm
Hello Bugman,
I haven’t been able to identify this moth after considerable searches. It flew into our house at about 9pm last night.
Signature: Ridou

Epidesmia tricolor: Australian Geometrid Moth

Dear Ridou,
Searches like this can take a very long time and still prove unfruitful, but we got lucky.  We thought this most resembled a Geometrid Moth, so we searched the Csiro database of Australian Moths and found a match with a photo of a mounted
Epidesmia tricolor.  The only nice living specimen photos we could find are on The Nature of Robertson website.  Your photos are a most welcomed addition to our site.

Epidesmia tricolor

Letter 3 – Black Banded Orange

 

Subject: Moth ID
Location: Michigan
June 13, 2016 11:32 am
I am having issues id’ing this moth. We found them in upper Michigan in the pine barrens where the Kirtland’s warbler nests. I have narrowed it down to a possible black-banded orange (Epelis truncartaria)
Signature: Glenn

Black Banded Orange
Black Banded Orange

Dear Glenn,
In our opinion your identification is absolutely correct, after we compared your image to this image of a Black Banded Orange,
Epelis truncataria, on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults fly during the day and are not known to be active at night.  Generally uncommon and local in the southern parts of its range; common and widespread across the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska.”

Letter 4 – Blood-Vein

 

Subject: Yellow Moth
Location: Bourne, Lincolnshire ( 52:46.3518N 0:23.4989W) England
June 24, 2014 12:44 pm
I photographed this moth in my kitchen before carefully putting it outside. I have trawled loads of web sites but failed to identify it.
My garden backs onto the local woodland, and we get hosts of moths that I can’t identify. But I have never seen anything like this before.
Any Idea?
Signature: Bob Harvey

Geometrid Moth
Blood-Vein

Hi Bob,
This lovely moth is in the family Geometridae, and we believe we have correctly identified it as a Blood-Vein,
Timandra comae, thanks to the UK Moths site where it states:  “This attractive moth is fairly common in the southern counties of England and Wales, but scarcer further north and in Ireland.  The adult rests with the wings held in such a position that the reddish cross-lines of the fore and hind wings form a continuous band. The fringes are also suffused with pink.”

Letter 5 – Chickweed Geometer

 

Moth Buckskin colored with Magenta bars
Location: Gladstone, IL.
August 20, 2011 2:54 pm
Yesterday I saw this brightly colored moth in the grassy area near a lake that was made from an abandoned sand pit. The unusual color and antenna intrigued me. Thanks for your help today and in the past! I was only able to get one view.
Signature: Randy Anderson

Chickweed Geometer

Hi Randy,
This is a Diurnal Inchworm Moth in the family Geometridae and we have identified it as the Chickweed Geometer,
Haematopis grataria, by using BugGuide as a resource.  The plumose antennae identify your individual as a male.

Update from Randy
Chickweed Geometer Moth
Location: Gladstone, IL.
August 22, 2011 2:54 pm
I wanted to thank you for ID of the Chickweed Moth yesterday. Today I saw two more in the same area at Gladstone Lake. One had the under wings towards me and the other had his upper wings towards me.I think they were both males. Thanks again!
Signature: Randy Anderson

Chickweed Geometer Moth

Thanks for the update Randy.  We have added this to the posting from yesterday.

Letter 6 – Chickweed Moth

 

moths
Hello,
Thanks in advance for help identifying the moths. I saw several hummingbird moth photos on your site and like many of your website visitors I was fascinated, curious and awed by it. I also felt extremely lucky to both see this moth and photograph it. Is it unusual to see them in Southern Ontario? In “The Dictionary of Butterflies and Moths” I saw several moths similar to the photograph of the orange moth I included in this email. Could it be the Argynnis Paphia or Lycaena Phlaeas? I found nothing that even comes close to the little yellow moth with pink stripes. Any help in identifying these moths would be created appreciated.
Take Care,
Janet

Hi Janet,
Certain species of Hummingbird Moths are common in Canada and we have even gotten reports from Alaska. Your other moth is a Geometric, the Chickweed Moth, Haematopsis grataria. It is often seen by roadsides where it has the habit of clinging to the stems of grasses and flying when someone approaches. It feeds on chickweed and ranges through most of the East from the Atlantic to the Mississippi and beyond.

Letter 7 – Common Lytrosis

 

Subject: Large moth
Location: Winnipeg
August 6, 2016 8:53 pm
Hi. I saw this moth on the side of a shed in my backyard. It is large – 3-4 inches across. Can you identify it for me? Thanks for your help.
Signature: Todd

Common Lytrosis
Common Lytrosis

Dear Todd,
After a bit of searching, we identified your Geometrid moth as a Common Lytrosis,
Lytrosis unitaria, thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Forewing length 21 to 30 mm., females larger than males.”  Though BugGuide does not list any Manitoba sightings, The Moth Photographers group does list a sighting that appears to be Winnipeg.

Letter 8 – Diurnal Geometer Moth from Indonesia

 

Subject:  diurnal moth from Sulawesi, Indonesia
Geographic location of the bug:  Lore Lindu NP, north-central Sulawesi
Date: 05/13/2018
Time: 04:28 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear bugman –
Could you please help ID this day moth from central Sulawesi, feeding rather unglamorously on some roadkill? It was seen on the 19th of September 2017 on a road through pristine humid forest at an elevation of about 1500m. I think perhaps it could be form the genus Milionia, but I am not a moth expert (at all!). Many thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Isidoreajar

Geometer Moth from genus Milionia

Dear Isidoreajar,
Based on what we have found on the internet, we believe your genus identification
Milionia is correct, but we cannot find any individuals with these exact marking.  Perhaps it is sexual dimorphism and/or regional color variations.  This image from Etsy and this posting to Wikipedia are similar but not exactly correct. 

Dear Daniel –
Thank you for your prompt reply: I was prepared to be astounded if you had come back with a positive ID as I have had a pretty thorough search (with my limited expertise though!) through the obvious online avenues. Having said that, M. delicatula is very close, just lacking the small red forewing markings. I’ll keep trying!
Many thanks again: your efforts are really much appreciated.
All v best wishes,
Jonathan Meyer

Letter 9 – Diurnal Geometrid Moth

 

Subject: Butterfly
Location: Cascades Mountains
June 27, 2015 10:51 am
Hi, I found several black-and-white butterflies flying around some damp soil at the 4200-ft. elevation of Mt. Rainier in Washington state on June 26. I photographed one of them; not a great shot, but I hope it shows the essentials. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks.
Signature: gardenjim

Diurnal Geometrid Moth
Diurnal Geometrid Moth

Dear gardenjim,
This is not a butterfly, but a diurnal Geometrid Moth in the genus
RheumapteraBased on this BugGuide image, we believe it may be Rheumaptera subhastata, but it may be a different species, because according to BugGuide:  “The variation in pattern among individuals of R. hastata and R. subhastata is much greater than the variation between the two species. … Since these two species have virtually identical geographic ranges, examination of genitalia is the only reliable way to separate the two.”

Letter 10 – Diurnal Geometrid Moth from Canada

 

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
June 9, 2015 6:12 am
Hi!
I found this bug in my backyard and I was wondering what species it is? It is fairly common flying around and feeding on the lilac bush. I have searched several bug databases and I am unable to find the name of it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you
Signature: Jordan Skaarup

Diurnal Geometrid Moth
Diurnal Geometrid Moth

Dear Jordan,
We believe we have correctly identified you diurnal Geometrid Moth as belonging to the genus
Rheumaptera based on this BugGuide image.

Letter 11 – Emerald Geometrid from China

 


Thanks Daniel,
I discovered your site last night. So I am sending you a photo of a moth I took in Longsheng, China. I had a poor vantage point and could not get it all. But it was exquisite. And of course, I don’t know what it is. Actually, I don’t know if it is a moth.
Monique

Hi Monique,
We believe your moth is a Geometrid or Spanworm Moth. Perhaps Julian Donahue can confirm or correct or elaborate.
Daniel

Update: (07/12/2008)
Bingo! Daniel is correct: it is a geometrid moth (Geometridae), in the subfamily Geometrinae (the Emeralds). It is one of two species in the genus: the aptly named Iotaphora admirabilis (Oberthuer, 1883), or the similar I. iridicolor (Butler, 1880). The genus only occurs in China, eastern Siberia, and North India. Nothing is known of their life histories. Images of admirabilis from Siberia are at: http://olegberlov.narod.ru/geom34.html and an image of one identified as iridicolor is at: http://www.bjbug.com/insect/moth/htmE/mo00020.htm
Julian

Letter 12 – Double Banded Carpet

 

Beautiful moth with intricate pattern.
Location: Oakland, CA
July 7, 2011 11:12 pm
I fount this beauty on my bathroom wall. I’m really not so good with moths, so I thought I’d get a second opinion on this one. I’m pretty sure it’s a Double-banded Carpet Moth. It would make sense, since a few of my neighbors stockpiled a LOT of firewood, and I know Double-banded Carpet Moths eat firewood. I did a search on your site for Carpet Moths, so I’m sure if you have any pictures of them. I figured that even if I got the identification right, you might like having these anyway.
Signature: Jessi

Double Banded Carpet

Hi Jessi,
Had you not taken the time to self identify what we agree is most likely a Double Banded Carpet, which we verified on BugGuide, we would probably have used the more general family name of Geometrid Moth.  Many moths, 1000s to be sure, have drab coloration and intricate patterns and it is sometimes extremely difficult for our staff to correctly identify them.  We should also correct you.  The Double Banded Carpet moth larva, one of the Measuringworms or Inchworms, feeds on fireweed, not firewood.  This is a new species for our site, though there may be an unidentified Geometrid somewhere in our archives that represents this species.  We are guessing you might be the same Jessi that has recently posted quite a few comments on other postings.  Thanks for taking the time to contribute to our site.

I am the same Jessi. Your site is the best ever! Thanks so much for having it. Please feel free to correct me any time, because I’m here to learn.  🙂

Letter 13 – Female Mottled Umber Moth!!! In California???

 

Mottled umber moth
November 29, 2009
Hello.
I found a wingless moth that turned out to be an Mottled Umber Moth after I looked it up on the net. From what I gather they’re local to the UK. I’ve never seen a wingless moth besides what I’ve read in books so was surprised to see this insect. I have been collecting and observing insects for years and I’ve never seen one. My question is, could this be an introduced species or do they also live in the states? I took a few good macro shots of her so you should be able to tell if this is one introduced from the UK or of a different kind that’s local here (California).
Location info: She was sitting still on a banister pole at around 10:00 am. The surrounding trees are Maple and Black Locust. I believe she came out of the maple leaf litter and dirt on the ground in front of the porch which is where we released her after taking photos. I think its been around 40F at that time in the morning. The moth could have fallen from the maple which has just lost most of its leaves.
If you need any more info let me know.
Molly Zeta
Dunsmuir, CA

Female Mottled Umber Moth
Female Mottled Umber Moth

Dear Molly Zeta,
It does appear that you have a Mottled Umber Moth female, Erannis defoliaria,
and we found the APHIS Invasive Species Website that indicates it is an invasive exotic, but it doesn’t indicate where it has been found.  We are going to copy Stephanie Dubon at npag@aphis.usda.gov to verify the identification and also to report the sighting.  Wikipedia also has a page with nice photos.

Female Mottled Umber Moth
Female Mottled Umber Moth

Hi again Molly,
Though it might not be possible, we would encourage you to try to locate the specimen in question again.  APHIS likes to have actual specimens from which to identify.  Hopefully we will hear back from Stephanie soon.

I know you’re busy but I have another question. Is there any particular light bulb I can use for attracting these insects so I can collect them? I know the white sheet and lamp trick but is there a light that will work better or will the sheet/lamp and a plain light bulb do?
I will collect as many as I can. Do you think they would want them sent live or frozen and preserved in alcohol?
Thank you for your time, I’ll help the best I can.
Molly

Hi Molly,
If you collect specimens, they can just be killed and allowed to dry.  Do not put in alcohol.  Since we don’t collect, we will contact Julian Donahue and Eric Eaton to find the best light to use for collecting at night.

Eric Eaton Responds
Hi:
Hoping Julian can address this better.  Plus, I am insanely busy….Insects are preferentially attracted to the UV spectrum, so blacklights are best.  Mercury vapor draws insects from long distances, but ultimately, UV lights are most attractive.  Still, the average person gets plenty at the porch light:-)
Eric

Julian Donahue talks about black light moth collecting
Since I don’t know what a “Mottled Umber Moth” is, my reply will have to be fairly generic (but see last paragraph)

Eric succinctly summarized the situation. Let me expand upon his comment.

There are two kinds of “black” lights: the kind with a filter that looks essentially black when turned off (the kind used in light shows to be relatively unobtrusive while making the right kind of objects “glow,”, and the ulfiltered kind, which look pretty much like a standard fluorescent tube.

We generally use 15-watt fluorescent black lights: they are more portable, and the light source is more localized. This is placed against a vertical white sheet (well-bleached, so that it “glows” in the black light) on a wall, a vertical frame, or draped over the hood and windshield of a field vehicle. I prefer the unfiltered kind, because it is easier to see what’s coming to the sheet without the aid of a flashlight/headlamp.

The collecting surface (light + sheet) should, where possible, be placed facing downwind, as moths are more likely to fly into the wind. No wind at all is a big help; other optimal conditions include (a) no moon and (b) high humidity.

Incandescent lights or gasoline(Coleman) lanterns are often used in conjunction with a black light, as they are often more attractive to microlepidoptera, if that’s what you’re after, and you don’t have to resort to using a flashlight as much.

MV lamps and sunlamps are often used by heavy duty collectors, but they are expensive, often require special fixtures and special equipment (e.g., generators if being used in the field), and run so hot that you can get a bad burn from them if you’re careless. Plus there’s a risk to the eyes, so I don’t recommend their use by the inexperienced.

And remember that about 25-30% of the moth species (at least in California) are not attracted to light at all! They tend to be either diurnal or leafminers, or both. The only way to collect them is by rearing or beating or, in some cases (e.g., sesiids), using pheromone traps or other specialized attractants.

I’ve just looked at the image on your website, and can state that all the above information is worthless for wingless female geometrid moths such as the one pictured, but it should work for males of the species.

There are a number of resident, native, geometrid moths with wingless or flightless females, many of which are active as adults in the winter or spring, so I wouldn’t become too alarmed until an expert has a chance to examine a specimen. Unfortunately, Doug Ferguson, the USDA geometrid expert, died recently. You might try Jerry Powell, UC Berkeley, who described a wingless geometrid from the east side of the Sierra Nevada, as I recall.

Without access to the collection, I seem to recall that California genera with flightless females include Yermoia, Alsophila, and Paleacrita (the last two are the Fall and Spring Cankerworms, respectively). There are undoubtedly others, and the females of some species, if flightless, may still be undescribed.

Julian

Update from Molly
February 27, 2010
Mottled umber moth Sorry to bug you again…….
OK I found a male moth yesterday and put it in the freezer. It doesn’t have the exact color patterns I see on the Internet but it has the same fringe on the bottom of the wings and matches the basic shape of an adult mottled umber moth. This particular moth is one of the more drab looking variations. Get back to me on where I should send the specimen.
Molly

Hi Molly,
We hope you can send us a photo of the male moth for our website.  You can contact the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or APHIS at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/about_aphis/ .  In the past, we have had contact with Stephanie Dubon about invasive species.  You can try contacting her via email at npag@aphis.usda.gov .  In California, the USDA is kept pretty busy, and there is an Invasive Pest Website at http://www.hungrypests.com/ and they can be emailed at info@hungrypests.com for additional details.


Letter 14 – Yellow Slant Line

 

Subject: I this a female Imperial Moth?
Location: Sheboygan, WI
July 4, 2017 8:30 am
I found this moth attached to the siding on our porch in Sheboygan, WI. I have never seen anything like it before. It was about 1 1/2 inches from wing tip to wing tip. The stripe is definitely black, not brown. All of the information I found about Imperial Moths suggest that they are yellow with brown. What is this? Thanks!
Signature: Mary

Yellow Slant Line

Dear Mary,
This very lovely Geometer Moth is not a female Imperial Moth, though both are yellow.  We will be searching BugGuide for its identity, but in the meantime, we are posting it as unidentified.

Hello again Mary,
We identified your Geometer Moth as a Yellow Slant Line, Tetracis crocallata, thanks to images on Moth Photographers Group, and we verified its identity on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of alder, chestnut, sumac, willow” and “Larva – a twig mimic; young instars have brown head and green body with white intersegmental membranes; older instars have two morphs: (A) reddish-brown with 2 pairs dorsal and 2-3 pairs lateral white tubercles; T1 with forward projections tipped white (B) light brown to gray with no white tubercles; T1 projections present, but not white; morph B is similar to A. pampinaria but has no dorsal tubercles on A7 [adapted from description by Pedro Barbosa].”

Wow! Thanks, Daniel! I wonder how this poor thing ended up in Wisconsin.
I really appreciate your assistance.
Just an FYI, I left it alone. I am not in the habit of killing creatures of any sort.
Mary

Dear Mary,
Based on BugGuide data, Wisconsin has reported sightings of the Yellow Slant Line during the months May through August.

Letter 15 – Geometer Moth possibly Euchlaena muzaria

 

Subject:  Interesting moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Springfield, Virginia
Date: 08/30/2018
Time: 11:28 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw this moth on my front porch today,  August 30. I think it look like its camouflage is to appear as fungus on a tree trunk. Can you help me with the name of the species? I looked in my North American Wildlife guide, but couldn’t find a match.
How you want your letter signed:  Elena-age 11

Geometer Moth, possibly Euchlaena muzaria

Dear Elena,
While we don’t have time this morning to research the species of your interesting moth, we can tell you it is a member of the Geometer Moth family Geometridae.  We will attempt a species identification later in the day.

Update:  Based on this BugGuide image, we believe this moth is Euchlaena muzaria.  It is also pictured on Discover Life and Moth Photographers Group.

Letter 16 – Geometer Moth

 

Subject:  Orange moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Redmond, WA
Date: 10/14/2018
Time: 03:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, found this on east facing side of house the morning after our first frost of October. Thank you.
How you want your letter signed:  BugzFriend

Geometer Moth

Dear BugzFriend,
This is a Geometer Moth or Spanworm Moth in the family Geometridae.  We will attempt a species identification as well when time permits.

Letter 17 – Pinterest Rant: Geometer Moth from Costa Rica is Pityeja histrionaria

 

Subject: Striped Moth, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
August 7, 2016 2:17 am
Hi,
I’ve recently tried to identify some of the insects I photographed in Costa Rica, in the summers of 2009 and 2011. I have had some success (this site has been of great help), but this fellow has been eluding me so far, so I figured I’d ask the experts.
This was taken in Monteverde, Costa Rica, on June 27, 2011.
Thanks in advance
Signature: Thibaud Aronson

Geometer Moth: Pityeja histrionaria
Geometer Moth: Pityeja histrionaria

Dear Thibaud,
Considering the beauty of this striking moth, this was one of the more difficult searches we have undergone in recent memory, but before we provide you with the information we have gleaned from the internet, we first need to rant on Pinterest.  In our minds, the Pinterest site is the scavenger of the internet.  Pinterest pilfers images from other sites, and because it has so many users, search engines bring up images on Pinterest even before they bring up those same images on the originating sites.  Then one must register to even access the original site.  We are deeply offended by Pinterest.  Our word searching led us nowhere, so we decided to do an image search, which we rarely do, and the only two internet images we could locate of your moth were on Pinterest, but we could not trace the originating sites since we flat out refuse to register on Pinterest.  Now that we have that off our collective chest, we can tell you what we learned.
Our first lead was a FlickR posting by Andreas Kay of an image taken in Ecuador, and we learned the identity of
Pityeja histrionaria in the family Geometridae.  On FocusOnNature we learned:  “Pityeja histrionaria ranges extensively in much of South America. It occurs from Mexico to southern Brazil.”  Though we did not learn much more about the moth, we located another image from Ecuador on FlickR, an image from Peru on Project Noah and an image on the National Moth Week site with no location.  Several sites have images of mounted specimens, including Lepidoptera Barcode of Life and Encyclopedia of Life.  This looks to us like it would be a diurnal or day flying species.  Are you able to provide any insight?  Did you find this lovely Geometer Moth in the morning after it had been attracted to a light lit at night?

That’s the one! Thanks for the amazingly fast reply!
I apologize, I should have specified, I did see this one at night, attracted to the lights of the field station.
As for Pinterest, I fully share your sentiment, and all I can say is that I neither have an account nor use it myself.
Cheers
Thibaud

Letter 18 – Geometer Moth from Tanzania

 

Subject: green moth
Location: Babati, Tanzania
April 10, 2015 10:14 am
Dear Bugman –
I would love help in identifying this green moth from Tanzania.
Perusing pictures, the closest thing I would find was the Large Emerald and other geometers.
Signature: Robert Siegel

Geometer Moth
Geometer Moth

Dear Robert,
We agree that this looks like an Emerald in the family Geometridae, and we attempted a more specific identification, but alas, the best we could do was this image on iSpot that is only identified to the family level Geometridae.

Letter 19 – Geometrid Moth

 

Pieridae butterfly?
Daniel,
Hope I don’t become a pest :-), but I have another for you. The closest I’ve been able to come on this little guy is that it may be a Pieridae of some kind, but I haven’t been able to zero in on the exact species. (The hindwing damage is my fault, I’m afraid.) Any suggestions? BTW, corresponding with you has inspired me to start a virtual collection. I’m going to keep my digital camera handy and begin to accumulate my own image library of insects, spiders and bugs. I know your site will be a crucial resource in helping me ID all of them. Thanks for your help, and I’ll try not to bother you too much.
Oh, and one last thing. Thanks for referring me to the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website (http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov). It’s remarkable. I’ve been in contact with them as well, and I’ve brought some of my finds to their attention after I found that there they do not yet have a record of those species being spotted in my county. I’d like to urge your other site visitors to consider doing the same. I was a wildlifer in college (though I never got the opportunity to use my degree), and it’s a good feeling to be able to add in some small way to the body of scientific knowledge.
Thanks again.
Larry
Union Bridge, MD

Hi again Larry,
Your latest image is actually a Geometrid Moth, possibly what Holland identified as Dyspteris abortivaria. It is common in the Appalacian regions.

Letter 20 – Geometrid Moth

 

A couple of bugs for you!
Hi,
After you so superbly identified a beetle larvae for me earlier this year I made the mistake of telling my mother about your site – upon which she produced an entire packet of unidentified bug pictures. If you get a chance could you have a look at the pics attached and let me know what you think? I’ve searched your site and am unable to find either of them. (I apologise about the quality of the pics but they are digital photos of her prints).
Many thanks,
James Stratton.

Hi James,
We would love to satisfy your mother’s curiosity. The moth is a Geometrid Moth which gets the family name from the caterpillars which are sometimes referred to as Inchworms or Measuring Worms.

Letter 21 – Geometrid Moth

 

Not a Hawk Moth
Any Idea What Kind Of Bug This Is?
I added the "leaf moth" name.
Andy Moon
Lilburn, GA (near Atlanta)

Hi Andy,
This is one of the Geometrid Moths, but we have difficulty distinguishing the species from one another. The name Geometrid refers to the behavior of the larvae, known as Inch Worms or Measuring Worms.

Letter 22 – Geometrid Moth

 

Subject: Moth dreaming it’s a Butterfly
Location: Costa Mesa
May 25, 2012 3:01 am
Hey Bugman,
I found this little white beauty hanging out on a bush by a steetlight. It looked like a moth, acted like a moth, went for light like a moth and was out at night like a moth. However, it liked to hold its wings like a butterfly – I presume to annoy people who are trying to identify it. It’s stumped me, certainly. I’m pretty sure its a moth and not a butterfly who happens to be a night owl, but nothing looks like it on the website I reference for regional moths.
Signature: butterfly dreaming she’s a moth hobbiest

Geometrid Moth

Dear butterfly dreaming she’s a moth hobbiest,
It is a fallacy that all butterflies rest with wings folded over their backs and all moths rest with their wings flat, but it is a generalization that is often true and it is one of the characteristics that is frequently cited so that the average person can distinguish a moth from a butterfly.  Here is a photo of a Mourning Cloak Butterfly resting with wings flat and a Polyphemus Moth resting with its wings folded, both breaking the generalized rule.  Your moth is a Geometrid Moth in the family Geometridae, but we are uncertain of the species.  A quick browse through BugGuide shows how many similar looking species there are in North America.

Letter 23 – Geometrid Moth

 

Subject: Moth
Location: Reelfoot lake Samburg, TN
July 16, 2014 7:00 pm
Photographed this moth at Reelfoot Lake in the northwest corner of TN. What is it?
Thanks
Signature: Bugman

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

This is a Moth in the family Geometridae, possibly a diurnal species, and at first we thought it might be a Chickweed Geometrid which is pictured on BugGuide, but closer inspection reveals it to be a distinct species.  We will attempt a more thorough identification in the future.

Letter 24 – Geometrid Moth

 

Subject: moth ct
Location: connecticut
September 1, 2014 6:45 pm
just wondering what this is
Signature: diane

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

Hi Diane,
This pretty moth is in the family Geometridae and the larvae are known as Inchworms or Spanworms.  We wish the image was higher resolution.  We might not have the time to pursue a species identification at this time.

Letter 25 – Geometrid Moth: Barberry Looper???

 

Is this a Four Spotted Fungus Moth?
October 10, 2009
Hello Bugman!
This little fella spread himself out all comfy and cozy on my dresser!
Is this a Four Spotted Fungus Moth?
And if it isn’t – do you know what it is?
Thanks in advance for your assistance, Kristina
Raleigh, North Carolina – Kristina’s Dresser

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

Hi Kristina,
This is not a Four Spotted Fungus Moth.  It is some species of Geometrid Moth, but we are uncertain of the exact species.  It might be a Barberry Looper, Coryphista meadii.

Letter 26 – Geometrid Moth: Buttercup Moth

 

Yellow moth
I spotted this charming little fellow flitting away from the lawn mower, but since I can’t for the life of me find my field guide, I’m having trouble identifying it. I think he was, give or take, about an inch from wingtip to wingtip. Any idea what it is?
Ri

Hi Ri,
This is one of the Geometrid Moths in the genus Xanthotype. One species is known as the Crocus Moth and another as the Buttercup Moth. BugGuide states: “Species identification difficult to impossible, except by genitalic examination.”

Letter 27 – Geometrid Moth from Australia

 

Geometrid moth from Australia
Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 10:38 PM
Hi Daniel,
I thought you might be interested in the photo I took this week of a moth that had flattened itself so well against a tree trunk, that at first I thought it was a strange pattern on the bark. I have identified it as Cypsiphona ocultaria. I wish I could have seen its underside, which apparently white, marked with black and crimson. See:
http://www-staff.socs.uts.edu.au/~don/larvae/geom/ocult.html
http://www.ento.csiro.au/aicn/name_s/b_1187.htm
Grev
East Coast Australia

Spanworm Moth from Australia
Spanworm Moth from Australia

Hi Grev,
Thanks for sending your lovely Spanworm Moth or Inchworm Moth from the family Geometridae.  We were unable to get the csiro link to work.

Letter 28 – Geometrid Moth from Australia

 

a weird Australian moth
Fri, May 1, 2009 at 9:13 PM
Hi guys,
This is one of our more unusual moths, Pingasa cinerea (GEOMETRINAE , GEOMETRIDAE) in that it rests with its forewings uncoupled and pointed forward. At least it makes the ID fairly simple. Taken on the fixed glass pane of my back door, a welcome distraction from the house work.
aussietrev
Capricornia region, Queensland

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

Hi Trevor,
We can always count on you to send us fascinating images from Australia. In searching for a link with information on Pingasa, cinerea, we were pleased to see your photos posted on an Australian Lepidoptera website that mentions:  “Its claim to fame is its extraordinary resting posture, with forewings dislocated to point forward.”

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

Letter 29 – Geometrid Moth from Australia

 

Subject: Crypsiphona ocultaria
Location: Nth Burnett. Queensland Australia
May 26, 2012 6:27 pm
Hi guys,
Hope you like these shots of Crypsiphona ocultaria. A very drab looking moth in the Geometridae until you see underneath.
Winter is closing in and this guy was very reluctant to move which allowed me to get it into a container to shoot the lovely colours underneath.
Signature: Aussietrev

Geometrid Moth: Crypsiphona ocultaria

Hi Trevor,
Earlier in the year we received two images, upper and lower wing views, of
Crypsiphona ocultaria, and we identified it as the Red Lined Looper Moth on the Brisbane Insect website.  The markings on the lower wings are quite pretty and distinctive, and we can’t help but to wonder if there is any evolutionary significance to it.

Letter 30 – Geometrid Moth from Borneo

 

Subject: is that bee or butterfly?
Location: Borneo
June 4, 2013 4:35 am
Hi, my friend found that on Borneo and we cannot find what is is, does anybody know if it´s dangerous or harmless?
Thanks
Signature: Catherine

Dysphania sagana
Dysphania species

Hi Catherine,
This is neither a bee nor a butterfly.  It is a moth, more specifically, Dysphania sagana, a member of the family Geometridae, which we first found on this blog and verified on the Moths of Borneo website.
  We suspected it to be a diurnal moth, and this was confirmed on this Indonesian blog that also pictures the caterpillar.  The Siam Insect Zoo website also has some photos, but they have fewer spots than the image you submitted.  A drawing of a related species, Dysphania militaris, is also included, and that might be the moth you have submitted.  That seems to be confirmed with the Butterfly from Rejang Lang site.  We cannot be certain of the species, but we believe we have the genus correct.  There are nice photos of Dysphania militaris on the Critters Page.

Letter 31 – Eucalyptus Defoliator Moth lays eggs in Mexico

 

Subject: What kind of moths this is ???
Location: mexico, baja california sur, cabo san lucas
December 13, 2012 3:58 pm
HI, i would like to know if this moths is dangerous ? people say to not touch them and be really careful with the eggs…
I leave in Mexico, cabo san lucas and they are everywhere for the past month.
thanks
Signature: sign

Eucalyptus Defoliator Moth with Eggs

Dear sign,
We cannot account for the superstitions you hear in Mexico, but we cannot imaging them pertaining to any real danger.  We believe this moth is in the family Geometridae and it most closely resembles the individuals in the tribe Angeronini which are pictured on BugGuide.
  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in a species identification.

Identification Courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Sign:
It looks like a Eucalyptus Defoliator Moth, Thyrinteina arnobia (Geometridae).  It ranges from Texas and the Caribbean to South America and is considered a major pest of Eucalyptus plantations, particularly in Brazil. I came across this surprisingly similar image on The Caribbean Pest Information Network site. This one is referred to as Tea Moth and the species name is spelled ‘amobia’. If you google ‘Thyrinteina amobia’ you will get quite a few hits and sometimes both spellings are used on the same site, so I don’t quite know what is going on there. Regards.  Karl

As always Karl, your input is greatly appreciated.

Letter 32 – Geometrid Moth is Obtuse Euchlaena

 

Subject: Obtuse Euchlaena Moth
Location: Mancelona, MI
July 5, 2014 7:46 pm
Here’s another neat moth from Michigan! Judging by pictures on Bugguide there’s a fair amount of variation in color and fine details of shape in the wings of individual Obtuse Euchlaenas (Euchlaena obtusaria). The general idea–serrated hindwings, pointing forewings, brownish coloration–remains the same. Wingspan, about 27-48 mm, Bugguide says. Evidently they like forests. This one was drawn to a lamppost on July 3rd.
Signature: Helen

Obtuse Euchlaena
Obtuse Euchlaena

Hi Helen,
Thanks for submitting this subtly marked Geometrid Moth that you have identified as an Obtuse Euchlaena.  We are linking to the BugGuide information page on the species.

Letter 33 – Geometrid Moth, possibly Tulip Tree Beauty

 

Subject: Moth?
Location: Mobile Alabama
July 28, 2013 8:30 am
Spotted this early one morning, have not seen one like this before, is it a moth? The other picture of the very large hard shell bug was on the road in Murfreesboro Tennessee, I just about stepped on it as I was jogging. What is it bug man?
Signature: Rae Nichols

Is this a Tulip Tree Beauty???
Is this a Tulip Tree Beauty???

Hi Rae,
This is one of the Geometrid Moths, and we believe, though we are not certain, that it is a Tulip Tree Beauty,
Epimecis hortaria, based on photos posted to BugGuide which states:  “Adult: Large geometer. Scalloped outer margin on hindwing. Variable pattern. Typical pattern is whitish background with black zigzag lines. ”  The Beetle is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus.

Letter 34 – Geometrid Moth with Curved Abdomen

 

Subject:  Mystery moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Lewisberry, PA
Date: 09/03/2021
Time: 03:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found on July 31, 2021. We live near a lot of woods, so often find many different species “hung over” near our porch light in the morning. We keep a list and have been able to identify most, but not this guy. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Sarah

Geometrid Moth: Eulithis species

Dear Sarah,
The abdomen on this Geometrid Moth is quite distinctive and we quickly located a matching image on BugGuide which is a member of the genus
Eulithis.  According to BugGuide:  “There is no reliable way to separate adults of these species without rearing or dissection.”

Letter 35 – Horned Spanworm Moth

 

Subject: Windowsill visitor
Location: Wainwright Alberta
August 3, 2012 12:28 pm
This moth spent the day on my windowsill. I have never seen one with this pattern before and because it was gone this morning i suspect it is a nocturnal moth. He was on my sill from at least 4pm-11pm. I’d love to know the name of such a beautiful individual. sorry the picture is a little unclear my phone was the only thing that would focus on him.
Signature: Jessica

Horned Spanworm Moth

Hi Jessica,
Our eyes are blurry right now after browsing through countless Geometridae pages on BugGuide before identifying this Horned Spanworm Moth,
Nematocampa resistaria.  Both Horned Spanworm and Filament Bearer are names for the unusual caterpillar of this species.  We have several photos in our archive of the caterpillars, but this is our first image of the lovely adult moth. 

Thank you very much! Glad to have helped

Letter 36 – Kent’s Geometer

 

Subject:  Butterfly/Skipper
Geographic location of the bug:  South Central Ohio
Date: 04/07/2019
Time: 02:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you identify the insect in the attached photo?
How you want your letter signed:  DSC

Kent’s Geometer

Dear DSC,
This is a Moth, not a butterfly, despite the uncharacteristic way for this Moth to fold its wings.  Often in very simplistic explanations differentiating Moths and Butterflies, it is generally stated that Butterflies rest with wings folded over their bodies while most Moths rest with wings held flat.  This is a Spanworm Moth or Geometer Moth in the family Geometridae, and we quickly identified it as Kent’s Geometer,
Selenia kentaria, thanks to this image posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “adults mimic wilted leaves and hold wings over head at rest, while the larvae resemble twigs” and “adults fly March to August.”  According to Butterflies and Moths of North America:  “Caterpillar Hosts: Basswood, beeches, birches, maples, oaks, and other forest trees.

Letter 37 – Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth

 

Pearl Crescent
September 18, 2009
Hello, Dan & Lisa,
I have a few photos, and I know you can’t publish them which is okey-dokey,
One I do know for sure has been identified by the Minnesota representative for the Butterflies and Moths of North America web site as a Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth. If you go to that site, look on the map and you’ll see a little blue dot in Minnesota. That’s my moth!
The next one is a pearl crescent, I think, but I’m not sure.
And last, but not least is what I call, Big Daddy Bee, a Bombus auricomus. I love those gentle giants!
These were all in my front yard garden in Minnetonka Minnesota.
Anyway, I don’t recall seeing these on your site so I thought you might enjoy my photos.
Take care
Laura
Minnetonka Minnesota

Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth
Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth

Hi Laura,
We will be posting all of your images, but we are going to do them as distinct posts and we will edit your letter accordingly for subsequent postings since having three different species from different categories in the same letter negatively impacts our archiving.  As we don’t have any previous postings of Lesser Maple Spanworm Moths, Speranza pustularia, we are quite happy with that submission.

Letter 38 – Male Mottled Umber Moth

 

Update from Molly
February 27, 2010
Mottled umber moth Sorry to bug you again…….
OK I found a male moth yesterday and put it in the freezer. It doesn’t have the exact color patterns I see on the Internet but it has the same fringe on the bottom of the wings and matches the basic shape of an adult mottled umber moth. This particular moth is one of the more drab looking variations. Get back to me on where I should send the specimen.
Molly
Dunsmuir, CA

Hi Molly,
We hope you can send us a photo of the male moth for our website.  You can contact the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or APHIS at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/about_aphis/ .  In the past, we have had contact with Stephanie Dubon about invasive species.  You can try contacting her via email at npag@aphis.usda.gov .  In California, the USDA is kept pretty busy, and there is an Invasive Pest Website at http://www.hungrypests.com/ and they can be emailed at info@hungrypests.com for additional details.

March 6, 2010
Sorry for the delay. Here’s the pic of the male Mottled umber moth I found. It’s patterns are different than usual but it has the same physical shape. I’m not 100% sure on why, but it may be because it’s in a different environment.

Male Mottled Umber Moth

Hi Molly,
Thanks for sending the photo you believe to be a male Mottled Umber Moth, and invasive species that may be gaining a foothold in California.

Letter 39 – Maple Spanworm

 

Moth name
Location: NW CT.
October 2, 2011 1:48 pm
We live in the woods of NW Connecticut and we often see this moth. It looks like a leaf when in a plant.
Signature: Welles

Maple Spanworm

Dear Welles,
We were relatively certain that this was a Geometrid Moth, and it took us a bit of searching before we found a match with the Maple Spanworm,
Ennomos magnaria, which is represented on BugGuide.  Other common names for the species include The Notched Wing, Notched-wing Geometer
and Notch-wing Moth.  It seems that both the adult and the caterpillar are excellent camouflage artists, and BugGuide indicates:  “Larva: a superb twig mimic – body green, brown, or gray, dappled with minute white spotting; pronounced leafscar-like swellings; head flattened and directed forward with long antennae; legs of third thoracic segment greatly swollen at their base, commonly held out from body; dorsum of second and fifth abdominal segments, and venter of third with raised transverse ridges; eighth abdominal segment with low, darkly pigmented dorsal warts.”

Letter 40 – Measuring Worm Moth from Japan: Milionia basalis

 

Subject: Okinawan Moth
Location: Okinawa Japan
November 29, 2012 12:01 am
I found this moth on my sliding glass door in May 2008 in Okinawa Japan. The weather is tropical in this location and is already quite warm in May. I may have submitted a top shot of this a while back, but this is an underbelly shot. I would love to know what kind of moth this is. Thanks for any info you can provide.
Signature: Richelle

Geometrid Moth: Milionia basalis

Hi Richelle,
In a matter of moments, we identified your moth from the family Geometridae, often called Measuring Worm Moths, as
Milionia basalis on FlickR where the Japanese name is listed as Kiobi-eda-shaku キオビエダシャク.  We verified its identity on the National Taiwan University Insect Museum Digital Archives ProjectPlease send the dorsal or top shot so that we can add it to this posting.

Thank you so much! Awesome news! Here is the dorsal shot, I found it after I had already emailed you with the belly shot. The dorsal shot was taken in August of 2007 in Okinawa as well.
Thanks again!
Richelle

Measuring Worm Moth

Thanks for sending the dorsal view.

I also realized when I did a search for the latin name of the moth that the black, white and bright orange inchworm image I sent to be indentified on the same day, is the caterpillar for that same moth…
Thanks so much for your assistance.

We cannot locate the Inchworm identification request.  Can you please resend it.

Letter 41 – Northern Pine Looper

 

Subject: Northern Pine Looper Moth
Location: Mancelona, MI
June 27, 2014 7:21 pm
Dear lovely people,
Here’s another of the many moth species I’ve ID’d here in northern lower Michigan in the past couple of weeks. The nights are warm at last, and the moths love it. This is a Northern Pine Looper Moth (Caripeta piniata). Bugguide puts its wingspan at about 35 mm, which seems about right. I’ll send a few more species; if you don’t want more, please let me know–and if you do, I’ve got at least a dozen nifty moths to share with you.
Signature: Helen

Northern Pine Looper
Northern Pine Looper

Hi Helen,
We are aware of the four well researched submissions from you in our very full mailbox right now, but since you have provided names and gorgeous images, we are taking to time to format them all for posting to our site.  We would welcome additional images from you as well, but try to limit the number to just one or two per day so that we can invest some of our precious time responding to paranoid requests to confirm that the blurry images of carpet beetles are not bed bugs and requests to provide extermination advice for harmless wasps that are scaring people.  We much prefer mail like you have submitted.  Images on BugGuide of the Northern Pine Looper support your identification.  We are going to continue to post all that you have currently sent us even though the last six postings to our site are all moths, but that is justifiable as National Moth Week is fast approaching.

Letter 42 – Orange Trimmed Satin Moth from Australia

 

Subject: Please identify this moth
Location: Ballarat, Australia
April 26, 2016 12:50 am
Hi bugman,
This moth appeared in my house on 1st April 2016. It stayed for the day and then disappeared. Could you please tell me what is its name?
Thanks,
Signature: Eddie R

Satin Moth
Satin Moth

Dear Eddie,
Why did you wait nearly an entire month to submit your images?  It took us a bit of time to identify your Orange Trimmed Satin Moth,
Thalaina selenaea, though we did notice several similar members of the genus on Butterfly House.  Not until we found this FlickR posting were we convinced our ID was correct, and we verified its identity on ipernity.

Satin Moth
Satin Moth

Thank you so much Daniel! I tried searching the internet myself but couldn’t find this Orange Trimmed Satin Moth. It didn’t occur to me that there would be a website dedicated to identifying bugs until a few days ago.
I had never seen a moth like this before and it also just happened to appear on my 10th Wedding Anniversary so it made it extra special because the colours reminded me of my wife’s wedding dress.
Thanks again and I appreciate the rapid response!
Cheers,
Ed.

Hi again Ed.  Thanks for letting us know about the memories this Orange Trimmed Satin Moth triggered for you.

Letter 43 – Possibly False Crocus Geometer

 

Subject:  Moths
Geographic location of the bug:  New Hampshire
Date: 06/28/2019
Time: 02:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have a big yellow moth in my room that has a wing spanned of about an inch.
Its all yellow and has brown/tan spots on it.
Its very beautiful and i want to know what it si before it leaves.
How you want your letter signed:  James

Probably False Crocus Geometer

Dear James,
This is a Measuring Worm Moth or Geometer in the family Geometridae, and that name comes from the movement pattern of the caterpillars, called Inchworms or Measuring Worms.  We believe your individual is a False Crocus Geometer based on images and the range map on the Moth Photographers Group.  As you can see, the spotting pattern on the wings is quite variable.  The species is also pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 44 – Possibly Omnivorous Looper

 

Subject: What type of moth is this?
Location: Campbell, CA
May 15, 2015 9:28 am
This moth is on my kitchen door. White for camouflage I’m assuming. It’s about 1 -1/2 inches from wing tip to wing tip. Soft fur on head. It looks like a stealth bomber. Very beautiful. May have black legs, small horizontal antennae.
Signature: Trish

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

Dear Trish,
Your moth is is the family Geometridae, but we are uncertain of the species.
  It may be an Omnivorous Looper, Sabulodes aegrotata, which is pictured on the Moths of Orange County site.

Letter 45 – Pug

 

Subject: Unknow Bug
Location: Prescott, AZ 86301
February 20, 2016 12:01 pm
I found this insect on the side of my house and I have no idea where to start for an identification. Thoughts?
Thanks in advanced
Signature: Ed Wright

Pug
Pug

Dear Ed,
Based on this and other images posted to BugGuide, we believe your moth is a Pug, a Geometrid Moth in the genus Eupithecia.  According to BugGuide, they are   “Commonly referred to as pugs because of the short underwings.”

Letter 46 – Purple Plagodis attracted to black light

 

Subject: Purple Plagodis taken at blacklight
Location: Frederick, MD
May 16, 2013 5:41 am
Hi Bugman,
Here’s a Purple Plagodis that showed up at my blacklight trap on May 9th. Love the site!
Signature: Ben M.

Purple Plagodis
Purple Plagodis

Hi Ben,
We had not heard of a Purple Plagodis,
Plagodis kuetzingi, prior to your submission and we are happy to post this new Geometer Moth to our site.  According to BugGuide it is found from:  “Nova Scotia to Virginia and Tennessee west to Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin” and adults fly from May to July.  BugGuide also notes:  “larval host is Fraxinus (ash trees).”  The species is also represented on the Moth PHotographers Group and North American Moths has an interesting dialog about range maps.

Letter 47 – Rufous Geometer

 

Moth ID
June 5, 2010
I would greatly appreciate an ID on these moths. The one looked like a cecropia, but I wasn’t sure. I know that patterns can vary considerably depending on location. Thank you!
Andrea
St. Peters PA

Rufous Geometer

Hi Andrea,
We are posting your two identification requests separately, since they represent different moth families.  The yellow moth is a Geometrid moth in the genus Xanthotype, and BugGuide remarks:  “Rindge (1978) examined 1,886 specimens (1441 males, 445 females) and made 261 genitalic dissections. He stated: ‘No one has found a reliable way to recognize the species as yet except by genitalia. The adults of all species in this genus are, for practical purposes, externally indistinguishable from one another, as they are almost identical in color, maculation, and size.’
”  We believe that based on the sighting occurring in Florida, this may be the Rufous Geometer, Xanthotype furaria, because BugGuide also indicates:  “X. rufaria is a southern species; it gets as far north as coastal NC and then follows the coast to Florida and Mississippi. The dot on his map in the mountains of NC seems odd compared with the other dots for this species. It is a specimen from Stone Mountain State Park, Wilkes and Allegheny counties.

Letter 48 – Redlined Looper from Australia

 

Australian Moth
Location: Sydney’s Northern Beaches
January 2, 2012 5:41 pm
Hello again bugman. I’ve got another potentially tricky moth for you. I managed to find a photo of a similar one on the net, that was of a moth in Georgia, U.S. (http://sparkleberrysprings.com/v-web/b2/index.php?m=200703). Could mine be the same species (I’m in Australia after all)?
Thanks for the previous identification!
Signature: Ridou

Redlined Looper

Dear Ridou,
We are very happy you included a photo of the distinctive underside of this Geometer Moth.  We quickly identified it as a Redlined Looper,
Crypsiphona ocultaria, on the Brisbane Insect website, and then we substantiated that identification on Dave’s Garden.

Redlined Looper

.

Letter 49 – Three Moths from Ecuador

 

Saturniidae/Geometridae?
December 8, 2009
3 moths from Bellavista, Ecuador. Western slope about 2000 m.
I think these are very difficult, but hopefully still possible to identify.
Leif
Bellavista Lodge, Ecuador

Unknown Geometrid Moth #3 from Ecuador
Unknown Geometrid Moth #3 from Ecuador

Dear Leif,
Thanks for sending your photos, but now we are filled with curiosity.  Were these moths photographed on December 8, 2009?  Just how big were they?  Were they attracted to a light?  Insect collectors are taught to provide as much information as possible on those tiny labels, and the same should be true of photographs.  Information will assist in proper identification.  In our amateur opinion, these are in the family Geometridae.

Unknown Geometrid Moth #2
Unknown Geometrid Moth #2 from Ecuador

We are also fascinated by the peripheral insects surrounding one of your specimens, and perhaps one of our readers wants to take a crack at identifying the Lepidoptera and Diptera that are surrounding the larger moth in the middle.  Sadly, just one of these identifications may take hours and hours of research, and a definitive answer just may not be possible.  We just had a nice telephone conversation with Lila Higgins at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles about the possibility of finding species new to science in the middle of an urban setting being just as probable as scouring the rain forests of South America for an undescribed species.  That gnat-like creature in the upper left corner may be new to science, and should you choose to pursue the taxonomy, it might one day bear your name.  Alas, when we began this posting, and we started to format your images for the web, we didn’t have a clear picture of where our response was going, so the numbering appears out of sync in reverse order.  We are numbering your images and we hope that you will provide additional information in a comment and that you will refer to the numbers attached to the moths.  We also hope that our readership may provide additional information, and now that the photos are numbered, clarity will be maintained.

Unknown Geometrid #1 from Ecuador
Unknown Geometrid Moth #1 from Ecuador

Hi
Thank you for your reply and comment.
Maybe this is too much, but it’s the only serious forum I have found so far.
As an amateur it’s very difficult to give all the correct information. All my moths from Bellavista are photographed on October 19th 2009. They were all attracted to outside lights around some of the buildings at Bellavista Lodge. Sitting on fence posts and the main gate, well actually everywhere. They were really swarming like crazy. Must have been thousands. Heaven for a moth expert I would think. Even for a birder like me!
I’m sorry, but this is really all the additional information I’m able to give. I could, however, try to estimate size. Maybe small, medium and big is too vague?!
Leif

The additional information is great Leif.  We are amateurs ourselves, and we are not even certain if the three moths are the same species.  Sexual dimorphism and individual variation within a species can make some identifications very difficult.  Would you estimate that the three moths were the same size?

Letter 50 – Two Geometrid Moths attracted to porch light in Mount Washington

 

Sent Via Personal Email
Subject:  Moth on Door on Avenue 44
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
February 9, 2016 8:27 AM
hi, can you tell us the species, please?
and this one, from yesterday?
what happens if the porch light has attracted them and they stay all night…
will they die because they have not flown – or eaten?
c.

Geometrid Moth
Geometrid Moth

Dear Clare,
We believe both of your moths are in the family Geometridae and there are so many similar looking individuals in the family that we often have difficulty with species identifications.  The one with the elongated wings might be a Pug in the genus
Eupithecia based on this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Numbers By far the largest moth genus with over 1400 species worldwide. About 160 Eupithecia species are found in America north of Mexico.  62 species in Canada (CBIF). Several species are Holarctic.  Identification Many Eupithecia species require dissection for identification and there are many undescribed species.  Adults at rest often hold their long forewings (with hindwings hidden beneath) at right-angles to the body, giving a distinctive “soaring hawk” appearance.  Food Larvae feed mostly on Asteraceae and also other plant families.”  We would not eliminate that it might be Glaucina erroraria which is pictured on iNaturalist though according to BugGuide:  “Dissection often needed for this group.”

Pug
Pug

Letter 51 – Two Spanworm Moths

 

Subject: Horned spanworm moth and large maple spanworm moth
Location: Troy, VA
June 26, 2016 11:02 am
Given my horrible guess on the last moth, I hesitate to say I know what these are, but I spent a lot of time at the Discover Life website comparing photos, so I can say with reasonable certainty that I have a photo of a horned spanworm moth. I’m not quite as certain about the large maple spanworm moth, but I found images that were very similar so I’m going to give it an 85% certainty. Fingers crossed. I do love their amazing leaf mimicry.
thanks
Signature: Grace Pedalino

Possibly Horned Spanworm Moth
Possibly Horned Spanworm Moth

Dear Grace,
Leaf-mimicking, brownish Spanworm Moths in the family Geometridae can be extremely difficult to identify to the species level, and we often avoid such specifics, preferring a general family identification.  We agree that one of your moths is possibly the Horned Spanworm Moth,
Nematocampa resistaria, based on images posted to BugGuide.  We are not convinced that your second moth is a Large Maple Spanworm.  We believe it looks more like the Curve-Toothed Geometer, Eutrapela clemataria, a species also pictured on BugGuide.  In both cases, we wish someone with more experience determining the species of Spanworm moths would weigh in on an identification.

Possibly Curve-Toothed Geometer
Possibly Curve-Toothed Geometer

Letter 52 – Unidentified Moth: Rose Hooktip or Geometrid???

 

Moth species?
Location: southern indiana
September 7, 2011 9:57 pm
Any idea on this moth species? The wings are rolled up on the moth as you see in the pic . thxs
Signature: BRIAN

Unknown Moth

Hi Brian,
Research takes time, and we are running late for work.  We are posting this as an unidentified moth and perhaps our readership will come to our assistance while we work a 13 plus hour day.

Update:  September 9, 2011
We haven’t had much time to research this request, and we are thankful to the two readers who submitted comments.  We believe this might be one of the Geometrid Moths in the genus
Pero as has been suggested by one of our readers and this example from BugGuide has the same rolled wing structure as the submitted photo.

Update:  September 9, 2011
With the newest comment to arrive, we believe this might be a Juniper Twig Geometer.  The photos posted to BugGuide are a very strong visual match.

 

 

Letter 53 – The Beggar

 

Subject: Yellow moth with clear spots on wings
Location: Arlington, Virginia
February 23, 2016 11:30 am
I found this moth last summer in Virginia. Very small, about a 1.5-2 inch wingspan. Spots on wings are transparent. Love your site. Thanks.
Signature: Dan

Yellow Moth
The Beggar

Dear Dan,
We did a quick search and did not turn up an identity, but we feel confident that one of our readers may have better luck before we can return to this research.

Thanks for checking. I have been looking at pictures of moths for the past year and I still can’t figure it out. Oh well!

Update:  The Beggar
Thanks to a comment from Ben, we didn’t have to research the identity of this lovely moth any longer.  It is The Beggar,
Eubaphe mendica, and according to BugGuide:  “This is not a typical geometer in appearance, at least.”   That might explain the difficulty we had on our first attempt at identification and why this has troubled Dan for a year.

Thank you so much Ben and WTB 🙂 I can now sleep at night.

We surmise that will be some relief after a year of deprivation.

Letter 54 – Canary Shouldered Thorn Moth from Canada

 

Subject: Yellow moth from BC
Location: Port Coquitlam, BC, Ca
July 24, 2012 12:06 am
This beauty was in the house hanging from my hat a few Julys ago. You’d think identifying a bright yellow moth with a cute pointy nose would be a cinch, but that hasn’t been the case. Any ideas?
Signature: Storm

Canary Shouldered Thorn Moth

Hi Storm,
We did a quick fruitless search, but our problem is we don’t know where to begin, and our two first choices are both big categories.  The wing shape and position makes us think this is a member of the family Geometridae, but the stout body and other features seem more like Noctuidae.  We will contact Julian Donahue to see if he has any ideas.

Canary Shouldered Thorn Moth

Julian contacts some experts
Jon and Gary,
Which of you can be the first to come up with a name for this beast from B.C.?
ID is being requested from the What’s That Bug? website, so any additional comments you can provide on hostplants, distribution, seasonal occurrence, etc. will be informative, and most likely will be posted with attribution.
Many thanks. (And if you’re at the Denver meeting I’ll understand a delay in responding),
Julian

Gary Anweiler Responds
Hi Julian et al
I believe this is a specimen of Ennomos magnaria, a large heavy bodied variable Geometrid
Gary

Many thanks, Gary.
Looks pretty good to me, and compares favorably with pics on MPG:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=6797
Daniel: Common name is Maple Spanworm Moth. Map and other images at link above.
Guess you win the lollypop, Gary.
Best,
Julian

Thanks Gary and Julian.

Daniel,
Thank you (and your network!) for identifying my house guest. Following the Moth Photographers link, I found this on the next page. What do you think?
cheers, Storm

Hi again Storm,
The common name Canary Shouldered Thorn Moth seems more fitting based on your photos.  Both moths are in the same genus and they look similar.  Often exact species identification is impossible based on photos, especially when variation is possible and species look similar.  We will send your latest query back to Julian and Gary.

Gary Anweiler confirms
Absolutely !!!  I was unaware of a second species of Ennomos out there.  So I learned something too.  I will take 2% of the credit, as getting to Ennomos led to finding the correct one; but I will be returning the lollipop!
Gary

Jon Shepard chimes in
July 28, 2012
Julian and Gary
I was in the field when these emails came. I agree with Gary with the following problem.
I do not have any vouchers of this species.  Photos on the CNC website and in the Geo’s of Scandinavia do not show as many darker lines on the upper forewing.  Those photo’s show only two lines.  Inoue’s Moths of Japan show no other matches.
Jon
Hi again
The comments I just sent to Gary and Julian applied to E. alniaria, not E. magnaria.
Jon

Thanks Jon,
I am Daniel Marlos from What’s That Bug? a pop culture insect identification website.  I have no scientific background, so please excuse me if I ask for a bit of clarification.  According to my understanding of your comment, it seems you are favoring Ennomos magnaria as the proper identification.  Can you please confirm.
Thanks again for your expert input.
Daniel

Daniel
I think it is E. ainiaria.  My earlier comments, which you did not receive, referred to the upper forewing pattern.  The photo you sent seems to have a more patterned surface than any other photo I found of E. alniaria.
Could you send me the locality information and date that the photograph was take and the name of the person who took the photograph.
So far this species is only known from the SW coast of BC and one interior location [Moth photographers group-unverified].
Jon Shepard
This is an introduced species

Storm provides some historical data
July 28, 2012
hi Daniel,
I’d be happy to provide what ever information I can for Jon. He’s right about it being unusual: The Moth Photographers Group page on this moth says it was introduced in/around 2006 to two areas of BC. The photos on their page were taken in Burnaby, BC, which is right next door to me.
BTW, the embedded date (2005) on my photos is wrong – that particular camera would reset the date whenever the batteries died. The actual date (2007) is given as the name of the photo.
Thank you again for your help. I’ve tried to figure this out for a long time and got nowhere until you started asking questions!
cheers, Storm

 

Letter 55 – Unknown Diurnal Geometrid identified as Dasyfidonia avuncularia

 

Underwing Moth?
This pretty fellow was in my yard at Lava Beds National Monument, northern California. He’s about the size of a quarter. I assume he’s some kind of underwing moth, but I’m otherwise completely stumped! Help?
Dave

Hi Dave,
We believe this is one of the Geometrid Moths in the family Geometridae. We were unable to locate it on the Moth Photographers Group website and have only done a quick search of BugGuide. We are late for work and are convinced that if a reader has not written in with a correct answer, we should be able to get you an answer when time permits.

Update: (11/16/2007)
This striking diurnal geometrid goes by the name of Dasyfidonia avuncularia. A similar species, described in 1935, also occurs in California: D. macdunnoughi has more white mottling in the basal part of the forewing, and the outer (postmedian) angled line in the hindwing is reduced to a blur. Photos of both species may be found at: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/Files/32/West32.5.shtml To see some of the documented distribution of both species in California, and thousands of other moths, check out the California Moth Specimen Database at: http://essigdb.berkeley.edu/calmoth.html
Julian P. Donahue
Assistant Curator Emeritus, Entomology
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Letter 56 – Unknown Geometrid Moth from Australia

 

Subject:  Moth? Butterfly?
Geographic location of the bug:  SE Queensland Australia
Date: 04/10/2021
Time: 10:56 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hey Bugman, spotted this Little critter tonight. Is it a moth? If so, what kind? I’v had a search online but can’t find anything similar.
How you want your letter signed:  LJ

Geometrid Moth

Dear LJ,
This is a moth not a butterfly, and it is in the family Geometridae.  There are many similar looking species and we did a quick search on Butterfly House and could not quickly provide you with a species.  We hope a family identification is sufficient for your needs.

Letter 57 – Unknown Moth from Argentina

 

Subject: Salta Moths
Location: Salta, Argentina
December 15, 2015 10:26 am
Brown banded moth.
Signature: JC

Moth
Moth

Hi again Julio,
We are guessing that this might be a moth in the family Geometridae.

Daniel,
Thank you. I will send you another one now. A more colourful one so that your readership enjoys it!!! Good w-e. Regards. JC

Letter 58 – Unknown Moth from Costa Rica

 

Costa Rican Geometrid/Bad-wing? Moth by La Paz Waterfall Garden
Location: Costa Rica
January 23, 2011 12:54 am
Hi. I shot a photo of a moth last May (May 10, 2010) of a moth which reminded me of a geometrid in shape,or very similar to a Dyspteris but with metallic Blue/Green forewing and black hindwing. The trailing edge of all 4 wings is cream colored. The body is ”fuzzy” and orange and the antennae are whiplike, not feathery. It was located on a railing near a light close to where I was eating breakfast on the ”Orchid Terrace” Restaurant. The surrounding environs were open field and secondary cloud forest with an altitude of about 1400-1600 meters above sea level. I was at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Their Lat and Long are:Latitude 10.12.6.28 N
Longitude 84.9.41.23 W
Signature: Joyous C, Long Island, NY

Unknown Moth from Costa Rica

Dear Joyous,
We haven’t the time to research this at the moment, but perhaps one of our readers will provide an answer and comment while we are at work today.

Letter 59 – Geometrid Moth from Sri Lanka

 

Subject: Unkown beaty
Location: Sri Lanka, Sinharadja forest
December 25, 2012 12:40 pm
Hi bugman,
during our visit to Sri Lanka we found the one attached. Can you tell me what it is?
Thanks in advance.
Signature: Ton Elzerman

Unknown Moth

Hi Ton,
We tried without any success to identify your moth.  We suspect is it in the family Erebidae and we hope we will eventually be able to provide you with a species name.

Karl provides an Identification
December 28, 2012
Hi Daniel and Ton:
It’s a Geometrid moth (Geometridae: Ennominae) in the genus Chiasmia. There are at least six similar species of Chiasmia in Sri Lanka and I wasn’t able to come up with a definitive species name. Regards.  Karl.

Hi Daniel and Karl,
I would like to thank you for the identification so far. It is a great
help for us after our visit to that beautiful Sri Lanka.
Have happy days and a good 2013!
Best regards,
Ton Elzerman

Letter 60 – White-Tipped Black Geometrid

 

Name That Moth!
Hi, Bugman! Can you help us identify this guy? He and a bunch more like him have been swarming around our Merritt Island, Florida yard since about November. Thanks a bunch. Great site!
Heather and Kevin Fresa

HI Heather and Kevin,
This is a White-tipped Black Geometrid, Melanchroia chephise, though it resembles some of the wasp mimics in the Tiger Moth Family.

Letter 61 – White Tipped Black Geometrid

 

Can you tell me who this is?
Saw this guy on a very windy mid-morning, November, in North Central Florida, clinging to that piece of grass like his life depended on it.
Tim

Hi Tim,
We first searched superficially, and today more thoroughly, to identify your beautiful moth which we believe to be an Arctiid Moth. Sadly we can’t get a conclusive species for you despite those distinctive white wing spots. We will continue to search and post the image on Bugguide.

Moments after posting on Bugguide, Tony Thomas wrote in with the following identification: “Looks like a Tiger moth but is a Geometrid, White-tipped Black Melanchroia chephise “

Letter 62 – Hibernating Winter Geometrid Moths

 

Subject: Hibernating Moths
Location: Seattle WA
February 21, 2013 10:33 pm
I was cleaning the Garage, and when I opened the barbecue grill (to fix the handle) I found that it had become a ”den of choice” for hibernation. I think these are Ectropis crepuscularia – Small Engrailed. There are a lot of them, dozens, all through the garage, and they move only very slowly, but I thought this grouping amusing.
Signature: George

Winter Geometrid Moths
Hibernating Winter Geometrid Moths

Dear George from Washington,
These are Geometrid Moths in the family Geometridae.  They are also commonly called Measuring Worm Moths or Inchworm Moths.  We located on JSTOR an online article called Bat predation and flight timing of winter moths,
Epirrita and Operophtera species (Lepidoptera, Geometridae) by Mats G. E Svensson, Jens Rydell and Richard Brown,  when we searched for “hibernating Geometrids.”  We then searched those names and found additional information, but the photos are all of rather drab and unremarkable looking moths shaped similarly to your beauties, but without the intricate markings on your moths.  These must be hibernating male Winter Geometrid Moths, and we don’t really know how to tell them apart for certain based on the markings found in photos of individuals online.  BugGuide has some pictures of several species from the genus Operophtera found in North America and all three species are found along the West Coast.  The markings on the Espirrita species pictured on BugGuide are more defined, but different from the markings on your moths.   We love your photo.  We rotated it and cropped it to a square prior to sizing for the internet.  Moth PHotographers Group has nice photos of the Autumnal Moth, but they do not look like your moths.

 

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

33 thoughts on “Geometer Moth: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide”

  1. Not sure, but possibly Pyrrhopyge phidias (Common name Phidias Firetip). The specimens I could find photographs of were a bit more red than orange on the head/abdomen but it was the closest match I could find.

    Reply
  2. I do understand that the Firetip is a skipper as opposed to a moth, however the ID requests states that the antennae were whip-like as opposed to feathery, which is why I thought it may be plausible. I also realized later after posting the comment that the feet of this particular specimen are orange as well, so while it isn’t the Firetip, maybe a close relative.

    Reply
  3. Oops, I just noticed my typos and missing words. I certainly wouldn’t have minded just the family, since I now know from experience how painstakingly tedious it is to match up wing patterns!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for submitting a comment. The link you provided saved us considerable research and it looks like it might be correct.

      Reply
    • Thanks for submitting a link. The bottom line is that we are just not sure about this identification and we hope that something conclusive is eventually provided. The coloration of this Rose Hooktip posted to BugGuide looks very similar to the photo Brian provided. We are updating the posting to include both possibilities.

      Reply
  4. With the info you all provided I think this moth is a Patalene olyzonaria, Juniper Geometer moth
    but not sure .thanks you & love the website. keep up the great work

    Reply
    • Actually, Butteryfly is a lovely name. Here is a quote from Daniel’s book, The Curious World of Bugs: “”It is believed that the common name butterfly originated in England due to the fact that so many of these showy insects are yellow, the color of butter, and that they fly. It is also speculated that both the churning of butter and the appearance of butterflies indicate that spring has sprung.

      Reply
  5. I can’t help but think that the overhead shot looks like a Tribble that sprouted wings. Very cute. I hope it isn’t a “nasty” species.

    Reply
  6. I also live in Cabo San Lucas, and the health authorities have as yet been unable to identify this species. They think it is a new hybrid brought on by climate change and our unusually high rains during September.

    I have heard that they are capable of laying eggs inside your skin, which is why you have been told not to touch them. I don’t know if this is true or not, but why chance it? My building is overrun with these things, and I have found and strong insect repellent will kill them. Hope this helps.

    Reply
  7. Hi, I found a the same type of moth one evening in Auckland.
    It appears on the website http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/moths/kamahi-green-spindle-tatosoma-tipulata.html

    Tatosoma tipulata (Kamahi green spindle)

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
    Order: Lepidoptera
    Superfamily: Geometroidea
    Family: Geometridae
    Genus: Tatosoma
    Scientific name: Tatosoma tipulata (the Latin name, which literally translated means “Long body like cranefly”.)
    Common name: Kamahi green spindle

    Kamahi green spindle (Tatosoma tipulata) is a native moth found throughout the forested areas of New Zealand. Its colour pattern makes it beautifully camouflaged in the bush. The caterpillar feeds on totara, kamahi, beech and other native trees. The male moth has a long abdomen compared with the female who has an abdomen of normal length.

    Reply
  8. Hi, I found a the same type of moth one evening in Auckland.
    It appears on the website http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/moths/kamahi-green-spindle-tatosoma-tipulata.html

    Tatosoma tipulata (Kamahi green spindle)

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
    Order: Lepidoptera
    Superfamily: Geometroidea
    Family: Geometridae
    Genus: Tatosoma
    Scientific name: Tatosoma tipulata (the Latin name, which literally translated means “Long body like cranefly”.)
    Common name: Kamahi green spindle

    Kamahi green spindle (Tatosoma tipulata) is a native moth found throughout the forested areas of New Zealand. Its colour pattern makes it beautifully camouflaged in the bush. The caterpillar feeds on totara, kamahi, beech and other native trees. The male moth has a long abdomen compared with the female who has an abdomen of normal length.

    Reply
  9. I found outside this freakish looking bug it looked like a crane fly but it’s long skinny body was a bright reddish orange it was creepy. Is it some type of stinging wasp? I’m in Washington state I have a wetland behind me so I get all kinds of freakish bugs I’ve never seen. Tons of ladybugs I mean like an explosion of them lol Ty for any input

    Reply
  10. Looking at the link you posted for the Eutrapela clemataria, I’d say you were absolutely right. Oh well, 50% isn’t terrible since I know nothing about moths. I’ve discovered that my kitchen window delivers me a different moth every night so I am having a great time photographing them and trying to figure out what they are. I’m trying hard not to bombard you with images, but I think I have a photo of a marathyssa moth. Would it be OK for me to send it?

    Reply
    • You are doing great Grace. You may send as many images as you like, but we cannot guarantee we will be able to identify everything.

      Reply
  11. Hi, I found a caterpillar the other day and put in a container in my house. I finally decided to look up what kind of geometer moth it is and I suspect it is a mottled umber moth. How do I report this?

    Reply

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