Southern Emerald Moth

The delightful, (1/2″ wide) Synchlora frondaria is most notable for its larvae, tiny caterpillars which disguise themselves by “gluing” pieces of plants and flowers to themselves so they look like debris. (From this behavior comes the common name “camouflaged looper”, since the caterpillars are “looper” caterpillars which form loops with their body (like all inchworms) for locomotion.)

It’s found in the Caribbean, across much of the Southern US, and South America. They don’t seem to bother anybody very much, so nobody’s written much about them.

This is one of the places where I think scientists have just a little too much free time, because despite being very academically boring moths without a lot of reference, this species not only has two subspecies, but an almost identical sister species. I honestly cannot tell this “Southern Emerald Moth” from its close cousin, the “Wavy-Lined Emerald Moth” (Synchlora aerata). Theoretically, the Southern is smaller than the Wavy-Lined; and, somewhat ironically, the second white “wavy line” on the wings of the Southern is a little more jagged (or wavy) than the one on the Wavy-Lined. This page has a photo of each all lined up for you, you tell me which one this is!

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