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Soybean Looper (Chrysodeixis includens)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Soybean Looper

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The small Soybean Looper has a big appetite for more than just its namesake, making it an all-around pest for food producers.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Soybean Looper caterpillar is a pesky little larva that feeds on popular food crops. Leaves and sometimes the 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 on plants has rendered them serious agricultural pests. Adult moths are migratory, moving north in the warm months to reestablish populations that did not 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 markings 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. 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 hungry larva is green with thin white stripes running down the length of the body on the 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 any of its host plants.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Chrysodeixis
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            Species: includens

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chrysodeixis includens
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 29mm (0.51" to 1.14")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; gray; white; copper; bronze
Descriptors: ornate; spots; sheen; metallic; luster; bronze; copper; flying; crop pest

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 13mm (0.5in) and 29mm (1.1in)
Lo: 13mm
Md: 21mm
Hi: 29mm

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