Measuring Worm Moths

Geometridae.

Measuring worms ("inchworms," "medidores") are the caterpillars of the family Geometridae, a large family (4,452 species; Heppner in press) in the Neotropics of mostly small to medium (WS 1-3 cm), drably or cryptically marked moths. Their wings are generally large in proportion to the body and display a great range of outline shape and color; perhaps most are brown or gray, but there are many green species. A few adults are mimetic, such as Atyria dicroides, which resembles net-winged beetles and their other lepidopteran mimics, or common and conspicuous, such as the polka dot moth (Pantherodes pardalaria; fig. 10.1 Of) with large blue-gray spots, rimmed and centered with black, on a yellow background.

Larvae typically lack all but the posterior-most two pairs of abdominal legs and advance by alternately releasing hold by these and the thoracic legs and looping the body (fig. lO.lOe). Many look like sticks or stems with their wrinkled skins and gnarled or spined bodies. When disturbed, their resemblance to twigs is enhanced by their habit of freezing rigidly in an extended posture.

Reference

Heppner, J. B. In press. Lepidoptera family classification: A guide to the higher categories, world diversity and literature resources of the butterflies and moths. Flora and Fauna, Gainesville.

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