Wavy Lined Emerald Moth: Essential Facts and Tips

The wavy-lined emerald moth, scientifically known as Synchlora aerata, is a fascinating member of the insect world. With a vibrant green appearance, this moth species is a part of the vast animal kingdom called Animalia, in the Arthropoda phylum, and Lepidoptera order, which groups beautiful butterflies and a wide variety of moths.

As you discover more about this striking creature, you’ll find that it is just one among many geometrid moths called emeralds. But don’t be misled by its beauty, because despite its delicate looks, these moths thrive in the wild and have even adapted their wing patterns for better camouflage.

So, as you delve into the captivating world of wavy-lined emerald moths, remember that this mesmerizing species is part of a rich and diverse group of insects that play a vital role in our ecosystem. So, keep exploring, and in no time, you’ll become an expert in all things related to Synchlora aerata.

Classification and Description


The wavy-lined emerald moth belongs to the family Geometridae, specifically the subfamily Geometrinae. This green or tan moth is one of many species in the Synchlora genus, which is native to North America.

Physical Characteristics

These moths have a few distinct features:

  • Color: The wavy-lined emerald moth can be either green or tan in color.
  • Wingspan: Their wings are fairly wide, typically resting with the wings spread out to the sides.

For easier identification, you can check the North American Moth Photographers Group or BugGuide.net for images and additional information.

Unique Features

The wavy-lined emerald moth belongs to the geometrid family, also known as emeralds. They mostly look incredibly similar, with key identifying features such as:

  • Green or tan coloration
  • Wide wings, spreading to the sides
  • Resting posture, which helps camouflage them

When observing these wonderful creatures, try to notice and appreciate these unique aspects. Remember, they form a crucial part of the diverse ecosystem across the United States.

Habitat and Distribution

North American Presence

The wavy-lined emerald moth, a member of the geometrid family, can be found in various regions of North America. These moths can be spotted in states like Texas, Georgia, and Maryland, as well as in Canadian provinces such as Alberta.

Preferred Living Conditions

The moth exhibits a preference for specific living conditions, thriving mainly in forested and wooded areas where they have access to their preferred host plants. In these environments, you can find them resting on leaves with their wings spread out to the sides.

Lifecycle and Reproduction

Larval Stage

The wavy-lined emerald moth starts its life as a larvae. These caterpillars usually hatch within a week of eggs being laid. As nocturnal creatures, they spend the daylight hours hiding and feed on leaves at night. Here are some features of the larval stage:

  • Nocturnal feeding behavior
  • Short duration from egg to hatching

Overwintering and Broods

Wavy-lined emerald moths undergo a process known as overwintering. During this time, they remain dormant, conserving energy for the next breeding season. In certain species, multiple broods may occur in a single year. This means that there are several generations of moths hatch in succession, allowing the population to increase rapidly.

Here are some characteristics of overwintering and broods in wavy-lined emerald moths:

  • Overwintering ensures survival during colder months
  • Multiple broods can result in a larger population

In conclusion, understanding the lifecycle and reproduction of the wavy-lined emerald moth is essential for monitoring and controlling their impact on the ecosystem. By recognizing their nocturnal habits, larval stage, overwintering, and brood patterns, you can better appreciate the unique aspects of this fascinating species.

Diet and Predators

Feeding Patterns

The Wavy-Lined Emerald moth primarily feeds on various flowering plants during its larval stage. As a caterpillar, their primary food sources are flowers like rudbeckia, liatris, asters, coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and solidago. They rely on these flowers for nourishment and camouflage during their growth.

The adult moths, like many other moth species, feed on nectar from flowers. Some examples of their favored food plants include rubus and other flowering shrubs.

Common Predators

The Wavy-Lined Emerald moth has some natural predators that may feed on them throughout their lifecycle. Some common predators include birds, bats, and spiders. These predators are more likely to spot and catch the moths during their adult stage due to their larger size and inability to blend in as effectively as the larvae.

Here’s a brief comparison table of preferred food plants and common predators:

Food Plants Common Predators
Rudbeckia Birds
Liatris Bats
Asters Spiders
Black-eyed Susans
Rubus and other flowering shrubs

It is important to be aware of these predators and food plants when trying to find or study these moths in their natural environment. By being mindful of these factors, you can better understand and appreciate the fascinating world of the Wavy-Lined Emerald moth.

Camouflage Techniques and Predation Avoidance

Role of Green Fringe and White Lines

The wavy lined emerald moth, also known as the inchworm, has an interesting way of blending in with its surroundings. Its unique camouflage technique employs the use of a green fringe along its wings, making it difficult for predators to spot among the leaves on shrubs and trees1. The moth also has white lines on its wings, which further help it blend in with the foliage of its environment. Some examples of the effectiveness of this combination include:

  • Blending seamlessly with green leaves on shrubs
  • Avoiding detection from predators such as birds and spiders2

These features allow the wavy lined emerald moth to stay hidden and increase its chances of survival.

Use of Flower Petals

Another incredible adaptation of the inchworm is its clever use of flower petals. To further enhance its camouflage, the moth employs a behavior known as “self-decoration” – in which it attaches flower petals to its back using silk3. This creates an additional layer of disguise, making it even harder for potential predators to find them. Some examples of how it helps avoid predation include:

  • Matching the color of the flower it rests on
  • Disrupting the outline of its body
Feature Importance
Green fringe Helps moth blend with the foliage of its environment
White lines Adds to the moth’s ability to blend in, mimicking the veins of leaves
Self-decoration Enhances camouflage by attaching petals, matching colors and disrupting the body’s outline

In summary, the wavy lined emerald moth utilizes several clever techniques to conceal itself from predators, including the use of a green fringe and white lines on its wings, as well as the unique behavior of self-decoration with flower petals. These adaptations ensure its survival in an environment filled with potential threats.

Conservation Status and Human Interaction

Effects of Lights

The wavy-lined emerald moth is a species that can be affected by artificial lights, as they are attracted to bright sources at night. This can lead to disruptions in their normal behavioral patterns and can cause them to become disoriented. As a result, human-made lights can disturb their natural activities and can have an impact on their populations.

Lights are especially harmful in open habitats where the moths live and breed. It’s crucial for you to be aware of the impact of lights on these beautiful creatures and take measures to limit exposure, such as using lower-wattage bulbs or installing motion sensor lights that only turn on when needed.

Current Conservation Efforts

While there is limited information on specific conservation efforts for the wavy-lined emerald moth, many agencies and organizations are working to protect and conserve their diverse ecosystems. Preserving open habitats, where these moths thrive, is crucial for their survival. You can contribute to conservation efforts by:

  • Supporting local conservation organizations
  • Participating in habitat restoration projects
  • Reducing light pollution in your area

By taking these actions, you can help protect the wavy-lined emerald moth and its natural habitat, ensuring these unique and fascinating creatures can continue to flourish for years to come.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchlora_aerata

  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/how-caterpillars-can-turn-themselves-into-perfect-little-twig-makos

  3. https://www.treehugger.com/surprising-way-some-caterpillars-defend-themselves-4863941

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 – Emerald


green moth
Location: Washington State
July 16, 2011 3:30 pm
found this green moth on the outside of my house. Small…probably half inch to an inch wide. Looked like a little red on middle of body between wing areas.
Signature: Georgi


Dear Georgi,
This is one of the moths in the family Geometridae.  The subfamily Geometrinae contains the Emeralds, many of which look quite similar to your moth with its green coloration.

Letter 2 – Emerald Moth


Blue green moth in Seattle
December 20, 2009
One day several summers ago (July 9, 2005) I looked out the window and saw this beautiful moth. I took lots of terrible pictures of it but got a couple that are ok. I’ve looked around and haven’t been able to identify it. We live in Shoreline, WA, just north of Seattle. There are a lot of douglas fir and cedar trees around, as well as a creek about 100 yards away.
Thank you!
Novice bug watcher
Shoreline, WA

Emerald Moth
Emerald Moth

Dear Novice,
Though we cannot tell you the exact species for certain, we can tell you that this is an Emerald Moth in the subfamily Geometrinae.  The caterpillars are called Inchworms or Spanworms.  You can scan BugGuide for possible species matches.  We would place our money on the Common Emerald, Hemithea aestivaria, which BugGuide reports from Washington and British Columbia.  It is a species that was introduced from Europe, and it is expected that it may continue to expand its range in North America.


  • 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.

3 thoughts on “Wavy Lined Emerald Moth: Essential Facts and Tips”

  1. Looks exactly like the photo, same size.
    Two came into house through open screen ~ 23:00.
    Island, Howe Sound, BC.

  2. Looks exactly like the photo, same size.
    Two came into house through open screen ~ 23:00.
    Island, Howe Sound, BC.


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