Monday, January 9, 2012

Inchworms: more little known pollinators

Inchworm (Eupithecia) on coneflower

Another group of not well known pollinator moths are the members of the Geometrid family, better known as inchworms. The name refers to the peculiar way their caterpillars move around inch by inch like measuring the distance they traverse. The scientific name also refers to the caterpillars. Some of these caterpillars can be found on flowers, but of course, they are not likely to do any pollination, since they don't move very far when feeding on the nutritious flowers.
Inchworm (Alsophila pometaria) showing its characteristic gait

This is a family that, unlike the previous ones has a good number of pollinators, both diurnal and nocturnal. The ones that fly at night are usually collected by attracting them to lights and, unfortunately, there is very little research about their flower visiting activities. A little more is known about the role as pollinators of the ones that visit flowers during the day; but not much.
Chickweed Geometer (Haematopis grataria)

Day fliers can be colorful, in contrast to night fliers. The chickweed geometer and the white-striped black moth fall somewhere in the middle between colorful and drab. But the white tipped black moth could compete with many butterflies with its orange body and dark blue wings with white tips.

The only thing that we can say for certain about geometrid moths is that many of them visit flowers regularly and probably accomplish some pollination.

Family Geometridae

Moths as Pollinators
Beginners Guide to Pollinators and Other Flower Visitors
List of articles

© Beatriz Moisset. 2012

1 comment:

  1. we have inch worms all over the farm, but no real idea what they grow to be!