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Family Geometridae - Geometrid Moths

Another Moth - Prochoerodes lineola Black-banded Carpet Moth - Antepirrhoe semiatrata 1199 Hydriomena speciosata 7263 - Hydriomena speciosata Moth - Letispe metanemaria white-striped black - Trichodezia albovittata Tulip-tree Beauty - Epimecis hortaria  Phaeoura cristifera - Hodges#6764 (Phaeoura cristifera) ? - Phaeoura - female Small Phigalia  - Phigalia strigataria - male
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
No Taxon (Moths)
Superfamily Geometroidea
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)
Other Common Names
geometer moths
measuringworms (larvae)
inchworms (larvae)
loopers (larvae)
spanworms (larvae)
Explanation of Names
GEOMETRIDAE: from the Greek "geo" (the earth) + "metron" (measure); refers to the larvae, which appear to "measure the earth" as they move in a looping fashion
more than 1,400 species in 6 subfamilies in North America
about 35,000 species worldwide
adults small to medium-sized (wingspan 15-50 mm)
adults usually have slender bodies and relatively large, broad forewings, often crossed by thin wavy lines; females of some species are wingless or have flightless atrophied wings
when at rest, many geometrid moths hold their wings away from the body and flat against the substrate (in contrast to most noctuid moths, which tend to fold their wings over their abdomen); some species/genera hold their wings in a characteristic position such as: flat & at right-angles to the body, or inclined 45 degrees above horizontal, or vertically over their back like a butterfly
forewing cubitus vein appears 3-branched; hindwing subcostal vein bends abruptly downward at base

larvae generally have only two pairs of prolegs (at the hind end) rather than the usual five pairs in most lepidoptera; the lack of prolegs in the middle of the body necessitates the peculiar method of locomtion, drawing the hind end up to the thoracic legs to form a loop, and then extending the body forward
throughout North America and the world
larvae found on host plants in various vegetated habitats
adults usually nearby, but most are nocturnal and attracted to light; a number of species are day-flying
early spring through late fall, depending on species
most larvae feed on the leaves of woody plants (coniferous and deciduous trees, shrubs); some species eat herbaceous plants
many species are economically important pests of fruit trees, forest trees, and berry crops
Life Cycle
Click on an image below to view a Life Cycle series.
See Also
The genus Zale in the Erebidae, which has pretty much the same characteristic outline as the Geometridae:
Print References
Packard Jr., A. S. 1876. A monograph of the Geometrid moths or Phalaenidae of the United States. Rep. U.S. Geol. Geog. Surv. Terr. 10: 1-607, pl.1-10
Prout, L. B. 1913. Lepidoptera Heterocera. Fam. Geometridae. Subfam. Hemitheinae. Genera Insectorum, fasc. 129: 1-174, pl. 1-5
Internet References
pinned adult images and provincial/territorial lists of the 500+ species in Canada (Troubridge and Lafontaine, The Geometroidea of Canada)
live larva images of 38 eastern NA species, plus descriptions and information on biology etc. (geometrid Caterpillars of Eastern Forests; US Geological Survey)