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Common Gray (Anavitrinella pampinaria)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Gray

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Image Credit: Dave E. from Swaledale, IA
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The gray color and mottled pattern on the wings of the Common Gray can offer this moth a degree of camouflage on light tree trunks, but its caterpillar is a master of disguise.

Updated: 10/31/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Adults Common Grays can be found across the continent, though they do not venture into colder, arctic air. They are common in that they are ubiquitous, but also in that they look like many other moths in its family. Overall gray, the Common Gray has a fine pattern of black lines and white hues. Careful study of its thin black wavy lines and gradient shifts are needed to identify it. When the wings are flat, a long black line traverses both wings near the head. Shorter black lines are centered on each forewing as well as on each hindwing. Each antenna looks like a single black feather.

Caterpillars of Common Grays eat leaves from a variety of trees like apple, crab apple, pear, ash, elm, willow, poplar, cottonwood, and aspen as well as smaller plants like clover. Like other Geometer larvae, they are light brown in color and resemble twigs, allowing them to feed and pupate while camouflaged. They stiffen their bodies and can detach one end from a branch in a way that makes them look like a new twig.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying 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: Anavitrinella
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            Species: pampinaria

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Anavitrinella pampinaria
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 23mm to 34mm (0.90" to 1.33")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: gray
Descriptors: marbled; mottled lines; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 23mm (0.9in) and 34mm (1.3in)
Lo: 23mm
Md: 28.5mm
Hi: 34mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Gray 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 Common Gray. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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