Tired of pink and yellow moths yet?
Good news, because this MotW is…
Moth of the Week: Chickweed Geometer, Haematopis grataria
Meet the Chickweed Geometer, Haematopis grataria. Coming from the family Geometridae, these tiny moths are a delight to find! Unlike many moths, the Chickweed Geometer flies during the day, making it far more accessible to the public. These creatures might look like butterflies fanning out their wings in the sun at first glance, however, due to the shape of their antennae, they are clearly moths. The Chickweed Geometer flies from May to October, although most specimens can be found in August. They live throughout the United States and some parts of Canada, preferring the cover of plains and meadows. There can be up to two broods per year, and their color varies from dull pink patches to blood red ones, hence the meaning of their genus name, Haematopis, which derives from the Greek haima/haimatinos, meaning blood. These moths are also unique in that they are the only members of this genus.
The Chickweed Geometer’s life is a fast-paced one. Larvae emerge after about only one week, and commence eating their host plants immediately, which include chickweed, clover, and other low-growing vegetation. Like all Geometer moths, the caterpillars are more commonly known as inchworms or loopers due to the unique way they arch their backs when they move. The inchworms go through five instars, and in a matter of about thirty days, are ready to pupate. After about another two weeks, the imago (adult) emerges. The adult does not eat, and larvae are not considered pests—in fact, they’re beloved animals because they clear peoples’ lawns of pesky chickweed.
Although the moth is little (it has a wingspan of about 25 mm), it stands out when it’s seen fluttering through the meadows in broad daylight. They can be terribly hard to catch or even look at, though—they’re very skittish creatures. Still, they’re neat little animals that make them favorites of collectors everywhere.