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Salt-and-pepper Looper Moth (Syngrapha rectangula)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Salt-and-pepper Looper Moth

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Image Credit: Troy D.
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The mix of black and white markings on the Salt-and-pepper Looper create a pattern reminiscent of inkblots.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Salt-and-pepper Loopers have black and white tufts of hair that poke out from the thorax area and even between the wings. Some individuals have collars of brown hair near the head, but overall, this moth is black, white, and shades of silver and gray. An intricate black patch in the center of the wings is framed in bright white marks that resemble dripping paint. An overlay of silver is common in eastern and northern populations. The hindwings are a pale brown color with a dark brown border.

Loopers have caterpillars that form loops, or rings, with their tubular bodies as they crawl. The feet come up right behind the head, bending the body upward into a circle shape. This green caterpillar feeds on conifer trees such as fir, hemlock, spruce, and pine. They are a minor pest because of their feeding habit, but they rarely eat enough on a tree to harm it. Look for Salt-and-pepper Loopers all summer long in mountainous, or elevated, areas where evergreens are growing. They are nocturnal and will come to lights at night, but they are also active in the daytime, allowing for plenty of viewing opportunities.are sometimes referred to as horns in insects. The Saddled Yellowhorn has wide yellow antennae that are hard to miss if they are out for display. The saddle on this moth is the dark patch of black color on the middle of its forewings. The surrounding area is a mix of light gray and white, so it is more prominent than its close relative, the Closebanded Yellowhorn. This is a nocturnal moth that comes to lights at night, sometimes in groups.

The caterpillar feeds on different type of deciduous trees like beech, elm, maple, oak, and ironwood. It has a shiny black head and a yellow body covered in spiky yellow hairs. A black tuft of hairs sits just behind the head and a second tuft sits closer to its rear end. Two broods can be produced each year.

Adults are early-season moths and are typically found flying in spring and early summer. Look for them in big gardens and forested areas where host plants are plentiful for the next generation.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Syngrapha
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            Species: rectangula

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Syngrapha rectangula
Other Name(s): Angulated Cutworm
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 14mm to 17mm (0.55" to 0.66")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; white; gray; brown
Descriptors: silver; white dot; black center mark; flying; checkered fringe; brown hair

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 14mm (0.6in) and 17mm (0.7in)
Lo: 14mm
Md: 15.5mm
Hi: 17mm

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 Salt-and-pepper Looper 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 Salt-and-pepper Looper Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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