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Looping along

September 17, 2015

Looper 1This multi-coloured and intricately-patterned caterpillar is one of a group known as loopers, so called because of their method of locomotion.
Being somewhat challenged in the leg department, a looper brings its hind clasping legs up to its front legs, forming a loop in its body, as pictured at left, then moves forward using its front legs.
Looper 2
Looper caterpillars mostly belong in the moth family Geometridae, and the one pictured here is in the genus Chlenias. Unlike this colourful caterpillar, Chlenias spp moths are generally of delicate muted brown colouring.
Looper 3
Our specimen was found on a stem of Drooping Cassinia (Cassinia arcuata). Some loopers are voracious feeders and known to cause severe defoliation of the host plant.
 
Thanks to Ken Walker and BowerBird for putting us on the right track for identification, so that we were able to find more detailed information, including a possible species identification, in Moths of Victoria – Part 5, where there is a photo of a very similar-looking caterpillar, also found on a Drooping Cassinia, and named as Chlenias zonaea.

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