Moth on Sedum at Mom's

Asked September 24, 2016, 6:43 PM EDT

Our Autumn flowers are in full bloom, which of course includes sedum. I know most sedum are not native to MN, yet Dad had a fondness for them so several varieties are in Mom’s garden. Like prairie liatris, sedum are pollinator magnets. Late one afternoon at the end of August 2016, I was taking photos and noticed a moth I’ve not seen before. Gorgeous thing, which of course does not necessarily mean it’s an insect we want around. Years ago I a very large and absolutely stunning moth in my garden near the iris. I put two and two together and discovered it was the adult of the Iris Borer. Beautiful markings, reminiscent of Native American cave paintings! Still, not a moth one wants if one hopes to grow iris!
Anyway, this most recent “new” moth has the outline of a star on its back with two prominent spots along the lower edges of the star. In profile, it has prominent ridges with arise from its shoulders and back. Quite stunning to see, and was feasting quite happily on the sedum blossoms. Even the bees did not deter this moth!
I’ve not seen a moth such as this, certainly not to photograph, so I’m excited to add this to my sightings list! The little bit of research I’ve been able to do gets me as far as a possible Looper Moth, but then I get stuck. So many Looper Moths! Can you help me narrow it down?
Wanda J. Kothlow

Faribault County Minnesota moths insect identification

1 Response

Greetings Wanda!

Thanks for posting your question here. I did a little research, and was able to identify your moth. The general name is "Common Looper Moth", and the scientific name is Autographa precautionis. You did a good job in narrowing down the moth to the correct subfamily, so well done! The great pictures made all of the difference too, and having side profile and overhead views.

I've never seen that actual moth, though I've seen several other looper moths. In fact, I photographed one (an Alfalfa Looper Moth, Autographa californica) on what I think is the same plant (Sedum spectable), which I have in my backyard. I took the pictures at night, and even got a movie of it at the plant. I'm attaching a picture, in case you are interested. You are right about the interesting profile that they have.

It is exciting seeing new moths and adding them to a sightings list. It sounds like you do exactly what I do. I'm up to about 233 identified moths, and it is always special to see something new (and kind of fun to identify them as well).

If you would like more information on your Common Looper Moth, take a look at this link.

Thanks for posting your question here.

Blessings to you as well. Thanks,