In Disguise

Top Photo: Camouflage looper on right side of seed head.

It’s time to start looking for camouflaged loopers. If you’re not familair with camouflaged loopers, they’re the small larvae of the small green moths in the family of moths known as Geometridae, geometrids or geometer moths. The adult moth of the camouflaged looper is called a wavy-lined emerald (Picture Here).

Sparsely, but wildly, decorated looper on rudbeckia.

These caterpillars (about 1/2” – 5/8”) are well known for covering themselves with the plant they feed on. The caterpillar chews off small pieces of flower petals, seed heads, leaves, whatever plant material is available, and attaches the pieces to its back with a little silk from the spinnerets beneath the caterpillar’s mouth. The caterpillar must do this several times during its life as a caterpillar or larva. Each time it molts the camo falls off with the old skin.

Once you know what you’re looking for you can spot them from a distance (arrow points to looper).

Camo loopers are found on many different kinds of plants from composites to trees but I seem to find them most often on black-eyed Susan. The flower is grown in many a garden and where there’s a big stand of the flowers it’s a good bet there’s more than just a few camo loopers in the bunch.

This one has used a combination of seed material and flower petals (looks like a sweat bee to left of looper).
Easy to spot this camo looper that has wandered off onto a leaf.

Camo loopers belong to a group of moth species which are commonly referred to as inch worms because of the way they move, inching along, front legs reaching out, body stretched to its limit, grabbing ahead, pulling and looping the rest of the body forward. This is also why this family of moths’ scientific name is Geometridae, Geo = earth, metron = measure, idae = family. It’s almost as if the caterpillar is measuring as it moves along.



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