|scientific name Autographa californica |
common name Alfalfa Looper Moth
Open meadows, hayfields, croplands, gardens and woodland edges.
Adults are collected occasionally in late May, but the main flight is from late July through October
A medium-size (3.6-4.2 cm wingspan) grey-black moth with a silvery sheen in fresh specimens. Forewings are mottled pale grey in the basal and subterminal areas, with dark blackish-brown in the lower median area and along the subterminal line. The antemedian and postmedian lines and the area below the stigma are dark red-brown. Stigma is silvery white, forming an outward curving arc with a rounded tip and with a widely separated fork at the upper end. About one-third of the way down the subterminal line is a black dash which connects the subterminal and postmedian lines. This black dash is diagnostic and will separate californica from the very similar A. pseudogamma. Hindwings are dark sooty brown-black, paler in the basal half and shading into a wide dark terminal band. The antennae are simple and both the sexes are alike.
Adults are both noctural and diurnal, and have been collected in light traps as well as while nectaring during the day. In late fall, they can be quite common and found nectaring during the afternoon at late blooming plants such as Alfalfa and garden Marigolds. It appears that there is a small spring emergence and a much larger late summer and fall generation in Alberta.
A widespread, common species, and a crop pest south of Alberta. No concerns.
No Alberta data. A pest on a variety of forage and vegetable crops further south, and probably also a variety of native herbaceous plants. Eichelin and Cunningham (1978) list over 50 genera in over 25 families of herbaceous plants and woody shrubs used as hosts by larvae of californica.
A western species, found from northern Mexico to Alaska, east to Manitoba, South Dakota, Kansas and New Mexico. It is a common and widespread species in Alberta, north in the Foothills, Grasslands and Aspen Parklands region and into the southern Boreal Forest.
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