Chickweed Geometer

Haematopis grataria
Geometridae (geometrid moths)

Adults typically rest with wings held flat out to the sides. Forewings are pointed and dull yellow; each has a pinkish or reddish spot near the center of the wing. Two pinkish or reddish bands parallel the edges of the wings; in the typical resting posture, the bands on the forewings appear continuous with the bands on the hindwings. The antennae of males are featherlike; those of females are threadlike.

Larvae are slender, but thickened and rough at the first abdominal segment. Variable in color, with green and white stripes or checkered and mottled with colors including red. Geometers (“earth measurers”) are the familiar “inchworms” that hump their backs (forming a “loop”) when they move the rear set of legs up to the front set, before moving the front set forward for the next “step.”

Wingspan: ¾–1 inch.
Habitat and conservation: 
Very common in vacant lots, weedy roadsides and yards in urban areas, as well as in the countryside, in fields and meadows.
Larvae feed on chickweeds (Stellaria species) and other low-growing plants such as smartweed and clover.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Abundant everywhere in the state.
Life cycle: 
Adults fly from mid-April through October, often during the day. This moth is multibrooded. Larvae pupate in a thin cocoon.
Human connections: 
Because the larvae of this moth feed primarily on chickweed, which most people consider undesirable, this species should be considered “beneficial.”
Ecosystem connections: 
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults may serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators.
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