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Friday, July 06, 2007

Looper or semi-looper, a variation on a theme

Compare this looper caterpillar with the geometer in the previous post. This looper, or semi-looper as some sources call them, has three pairs of abdominal legs while the geometers have two. This arrangement results in an inching movement style, "looping", very similar to the geometers but I suppose to some eyes it's not as extreme--"semi-looping" because of the additional pair of legs. This photo shows off the leg arrangement in the looper class caterpillar pretty well. These loopers are in the family of owlet moths, Noctuidae. Not all noctuids are loopers, as many of them have have 5 pairs of abdominal legs which is the caterpillar norm. That results in a smoother undulating movement for those "normal" caterpillars.

This looper is feeding on my Uncarina roeoesliana, a member of the sesame family. I am looking forward to this interesting plant growing to its full height of 7 feet, and producing its hooked or barbed fruits designed to latch on to passing animals' fur. For now the flowers are quite nice even if the foliage has an odd oil-like odor.

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