Yellow Mocis

Moths in the genus Mocis are generally medium-sized (about 26mm across), and yellowish with closely related spot patterns. There are five such moths in North America, all in the southeastern US, more or less. The range of the yellow mocis is roughly from the east coast of Texas, all along the Gulf coast, through to Florida and South Carolina.

They have interesting, attractively striped caterpillars in the same tones of beige, brown, black and white as the adults. The caterpillars feed on forage and pasture grasses as well as some human crops (making them notable pests, unfortunately). They move like inchworms, making their bodies into a loop and then extending again, hence the common name for the genus, grass loopers or striped grass loopers.

Full disclosure: on iNaturalist, I’ve been told this may, in fact, be a withered mocis (Mocis marcida) and not a yellow mocis (Mocis disseverans). And hey, I’m no expert. My guess on species is based on the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Southeastern North America, and the comparison image on bugguide.net, as well as skimming through bugguide.net’s photos of each species. My impression is still that this is M. disseverans. I’m not sure what difference it makes, as both moths are of the “single sentence on Wikipedia” variety, and pretty interchangeable except for nuances in pattern.

(This sort of base, uneducated, neanderthal opinion is why I’m probably never going to be a real entomologist. 🙂

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