Orange Wing

Mellilla xanthometata
Geometridae (geometrid moths)

Adults are identified easily by the bright orange hindwings, even in flight (females, however, are not as brightly colored as males). The forewings are gray, tan or brown, with variable markings, but usually with straight lines and often a single dark spot.

Larvae are green “inchworms,” with a brownish-orange head.

Wingspan: ½–1 inch.
Habitat and conservation: 
This moth is easily flushed in the daytime and often flies some distance before settling again to rest. The food plant—honey locust—is widespread in our state: It occurs in wild areas, old fields and roadsides, and a thornless variety is very popular for landscaping in cities and even big parking lots. With the food plant so widespread, this moth is widespread as well.
Larvae feed on the leaves of honey locust, and possibly those of other woody members of the legume family, too.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Abundant resident species.
Life cycle: 
Adults fly from early April into September, and they can be active day or night. This species is multibrooded in our state.
Human connections: 
Moths that are drawn to lights have long served as symbols for any irresistible attraction to something. Religious thinkers around the world have used the image of the moth burning up in the flame of a candle as a symbol for the human soul’s desire to unite with God.
Ecosystem connections: 
The caterpillars are herbivores that serve as a natural pruning mechanism on honey locusts. All stages—eggs, caterpillars, pupae and adults—provide food for predators.
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