Celery Looper Moth – Anagrapha falcifera

Celery Looper Moth – Anagrapha falcifera
Order: Lepidoptera / Superfamily: Noctuoidea
/ Family: Noctuidae / Subfamily: Plusiinae
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Live adult moths photographed in the wild at DuPage County, Illinois, USA. size = 20mm

The celery looper is common in waste places, along forest edges and in old farm fields. It has a very rapid, erratic flight and is very difficult to pursue. It is one of the most difficult to moths to approach – they are very skittish. I have never managed to get a full-on dorsal shot for this reason, and that’s disappointing because the two white swirls form a “death’s head" figure. I love the little tufts of bristles.

Noctuidae common names: noctuid moths, owlet moths, underwings, loopers. Common medium-sized, dull colored moths. Antennae threadlike, never feathery. Hind wings of most species without any pattern. Hind wings of underwing moths, however, show bands of bright colors when they fly. The family Noctuidae is the largest of the order with some 2,700 species in North America. The cutworms, armyworms, cabbage looper, and corn earworm are some of the serious agricultural pests occurring in this family.

Some of the Noctuids are preyed upon by bats. However, some of these species have developed an evasive system whereby upon hearing the high pitched note emitted by the bat to locate its prey, a tiny organ in the ear sends muscles in the wings into spasm – causing the moth to dart around erratically. This random movement is too quick for the bat to follow. If you've ever had the pleasure to chase a celery looper through the grass, you've witnessed a Noctuid moths evasive flight capabilities.

Several species have larvae (caterpillars) that live in the soil and are agricultural or horticultural pests. These are the "cutworms" that eat the bases of young brassicas and lettuces. They form hard, shiny pupae. Most noctuid larvae feed at night, resting in the soil or in a crevice in its food plant during the day.

Order Lepidoptera: Moths. Unlike the butterflies, moths are usually nocturnal. Many moths and their caterpillars are major agricultural pests in large parts of the world. Moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabrics, clothes and blankets made from natural fibers such as wool or silk. Moths in the genus Farinalis feed on stored grain, flour, corn meal and other milled grain products.
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