Curve-Toothed Geometer

Eutrapela clemataria

Photographs by Susan Snyder

A rather large caterpillar, camouflaged as a stick, was spotted on a saltbush plant in garden 10 on November 19, 2008. Like other caterpillars in the Family Geometridae, this caterpillar moved like an inchworm. Geometrid caterpillars move with a wave-like motion because they have fewer pairs of legs than do other caterpillars. To move, they pull their posterior ends forward as they arch their backs and extend their bodies toward their heads.


The caterpillar was removed with some of the saltbush and transported to an aquarium where it could be closely observed over the next three weeks. In the photograph below, you will note that the head is at the bottom left corner.

As shown at right, five days later on November 24th, the caterpillar pupated. Note that the eye, antenna, wings, and abdomen of the moth are discernible through the skin (exoskeleton) of the pupa.


Below left shows the pupa on November 28th. Notice that the pupa is bent. In taking this photograph, the saltbush was inadvertently jiggled and the pupa reacted to the movement by rotating in a circle. The photograph at right was taken on December 8th.

On December 12th, the adult emerged from the pupa. Note that the shape and color of this moth resemble a dead leaf. These characteristics protect the moth from predation.



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