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Black-dotted Ruddy Moth (Ilexia intractata)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black-dotted Ruddy Moth

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Image Credit: Arch Baker
Full-sized image of the Black-Dotted-Ruddy-Moth Thumbnail image of the Black-Dotted-Ruddy-Moth

The Black-dotted Ruddy is a brown beauty that can be difficult to distinguish from other brown moths.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Slight color variations between individual Black-dotted Ruddy Moths mean some are a darker or warmer brown than others. Many have a single black dot on each wing that is clearly visible, but others might lack them and be covered in flecks of brown instead. Females have smooth antennae while males have comb-like teeth on theirs. Three darker lines curve across the wings, though they may not be easy to see.

The caterpillar of this moth feeds on the leaves of American holly trees and shrubs, and is considered somewhat of a nuisance especially in the southeastern states of the U.S.. It is also called the Holly Looper, forming small loops or circles with its body as it crawls. The skinny green caterpillar has three pairs of true legs by its head and two pairs of prolegs by its rear end, but none between. Small black dots on the side of the body may be present on more mature caterpillars.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Geometridae
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          Genus: Ilexia
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            Species: intractata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ilexia intractata
Other Name(s): Holly Looper Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 21mm to 31mm (0.82" to 1.22")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown
Descriptors: brown; black dot; dark brown; flying; three lines

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 21mm (0.8in) and 31mm (1.2in)
Lo: 21mm
Md: 26mm
Hi: 31mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black-dotted Ruddy Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black-dotted Ruddy Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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