The small Soybean Looper has a big appetite for more than just its namesake, making it an all-around pest for food producers.
The Soybean Looper caterpillar is a pesky little larva that feeds on popular food crops. Leaves and sometimes fruits of soybeans, lettuce, tomato, sweet potato, peanut, and vegetables in the cabbage family are dietary options. Tobacco, cotton, goldenrod, and other low-growing plants are also welcome items for dinner. Young caterpillars feed on the lower foliage of the plant and move upward and outward as they grow. Scarring from feeding on the skin and tissues of fruit creates blemishes. The large amount of defoliation that a population of caterpillars can inflict has rendered them serious agricultural pests. Adults are migratory, moving north in the warm months to reestablish populations that didn't survive the cold winter. Two or more broods can be produced each growing season, so populations can quickly establish themselves in an area.
The adult moth is brown with a variety of patterns on its forewings. It looks similar to the Common Looper, but is more bronze and copper-colored. Two white spots - one solid, the other filled - are clearly visible on each forewing. The bottom of the forewing is gray and brown and these colors bleed into each other like watercolors. A tuft of hair near the head rises up like a giant collar. The top part of the furry brown abdomen has an orange patch of hair. The larva is green with thin white stripes running down the length of the body on top and on the sides. Short white bands cross each segment. Tiny black dots run along the sides. The tail end is wider and thicker than the head and rest of the body. Soybean Looper caterpillars form loops, or rings, with their bodies as they crawl across stems and branches. The wide rear end is brought up right behind the head, bending the body into a complete circle, just before the head stretches forward. Look for this species in fields and farms on host plants.
Scientific Name: Chrysodeixis includens
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 29mm (0.51in to 1.13in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.