Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Rachiplusia ou (Guenée, 1852)
Plusia ou Guenée, 1852
syn. Plusia tenaculum Guenée, 1852
P. fratella Grote, 1874
P. pedalis Grote, 1875
Phytometra ou ab. ouella Strand, 1917
Phytometra ou ab. ouana Strand, 1917
* phylogenetic sequence #931176
Explanation of Names
Rachi- is perhaps(?) from rachis, the axis of a leaf or spinal column? Suffix -plusia refers to other members of genus. Specific name ou is of obscure origin. Perhaps it is clever viusal pun The markings on the moth's forewing do look like the letters O and U. (Based on Internet searches, with a little imagination.) [PC]
forewing length 13-20 mm (Pogue, 2005)(1)
Adults - forewing glossy brownish-gray with irregular double PM line and adjacent pale band across subterminal area, especially noticeable near costa; stigma white, either as separate U-shaped and O-shaped parts or (more often) joined together, with black shading between it and reniform spot; subterminal line distinct, black, irregular, bordered distally by paler shading near anal angle; fringe checkered; hindwing dark brownish-gray with checkered fringe.
Eastern and central North America from Arizona to Florida, north to Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
Open areas, cultivated land, presumably.
Adults fly from May to October, or all year in southern states.
Larvae feed on clover, corn, Mexican Tea
), mint (Mentha
spp.), tobacco, wheat, and other plants (Covell, 1984).
Two or more generations per year (Covell, 1984).(2)
) forewing shows less contrast, lacks pale band in subterminal area, and has less distinct lines (compare photos of both species
at CBIF). Other members of the subfamily Plusiinae are similar.
Boisduval, J. A. & A. Guenée 1852. Noctuilites 2. Hist. nat. Ins., Spec. gén. Lépid. 6: 348
Covell Jr., C. V. 1984. A field guide to moths of eastern North America. p.156, pl.31 #8 (2)
Eichlin, T. D. & H. B. Cunningham 1978. The Plusiinae (Lepidoptera:Noctuidae) of America north of Mexico, emphasizing genitalic and larval morphology. USDA Tech. Bulletin 1567: 1-122 (PDF
Lafontaine, J. D. & R. W. Poole 1991. Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 25.1: p.58; pl.1.21-22
Pogue, M. G. 2005. The Plusiinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Zootaxa 1032: 1–28 (PDF
Powell, J. A. & P. A. Opler 2009. Moths of Western North America, Pl.49.28m; p.277(3)
pinned adult image, common name reference [Gray Looper], larval foodplants (Dale Clark, Texas)
pinned adult images
(Bruce Walsh, Moths of Southeastern Arizona)