Adult celery loopers typically rest with wings folded rooflike over the back. The forewing is gray or tan, with a rectangular, darker brown patch bordered by a curved silvery white line that often ends in a small reddish spot.
Larvae are pale green “loopers,” which move inchworm-like by humping their backs. A white or pale line runs down each side; these contain a row of small white spiracles edged in black. There are sparse, minute hairs and tiny light markings on the rest of the body.
Similar species: There are many species of noctuid (owlet) moths in Missouri, many of them quite similar. Also, the name "looper" has little to do with how closely related moths are, since it only describes the caterpillars' method of "inchworm" walking. Geometrid moths, for example, are commonly called "loopers" because their larvae typically walk the same way.
Wingspan: 1¼–1½ inches.
Habitat and Conservation
Celery loopers fly in open areas and occur in grasslands, old fields, crop fields, gardens, roadsides, and more. They are attracted to lights at night.
Larvae feed on a great variety of herbaceous plants, including several cultivated species — beet, blueberry, cabbage, carrot, corn, and lettuce, and yes, celery — as well as wild plants such as clovers, plantains, and viburnums. The adults drink nectar from a variety of flowers.
Adults fly from April into October and are active both night and day. This species overwinters in the pupal form and emerges in spring as an adult. There can be multiple broods.
There are many more moths than there are butterflies, and this is one of many noctuid, or owlet moths that look very similar. Some noctuids are serious crop and garden pests.
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators.