geometer moths

(Family Geometridae)

geometer moth (Family Geometridae)
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  Geometer Moths (Family Geometridae) is a very large family of inchworm moths. There are about 35,000 species worldwide, more than 1,400 species in North America north of Mexico. At least 172 species have been reported in Minnesota. They occur almost everywhere and on every continent, including Antarctica. Many are significant pests of orchard and shade trees. Most adults are active at night and will come to lights. The larvae move by extending the front of the body forward then bringing the rear of the body up to meet the front, thus creating a “loop”. This is the source of several of the the common names given to the family.      

Geometer moths are small to medium-sized and usually have a slender body. On the forewing, the cubitus (Cu) vein appears to have 3 branches. The subcosta (Sc) vein, the first vein behind the leading margin, and the radius (R) vein are parallel and either close together or fused together along the side of the discal cell. On the hindwing, the Sc vein is abruptly angled downward at the base. The antennae may be dilated at the tip or not. If they are, then the eyes are bare, not covered with hairs.

The larvae have only 2 or 3 pairs of false legs (prolegs). These are at the rear end of the body and is the reason for the distinctive mode of travel.


Distribution Map



7, 24, 29, 30.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Geometroidea (geometrid and swallowtail moths)  

Subordinate Taxa


blackberry looper (Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria)

chickweed geometer (Haematopis grataria)

common eupithecia (Eupithecia miserulata)

geometer moth (Xanthotype spp.)

simple wave (Scopula junctaria)

stout spanworm moth (Lycia ursaria)

white slant-line (Tetracis cachexiata)

white-striped black (Trichodezia albovittata)

yellow slant-line (Tetracis crocallata)






Common Names


cankerworms (larvae)

geometer moths (adults)

geometers (larvae)

inchworms (larvae)

loopers (larvae)

measuringworms (larvae)

spanworms (larvae)











A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.






Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon

    geometer moth (Family Geometridae)   geometer moth (Family Geometridae)  





Andree Reno Sanborn

There are over 1,400 species of geometer moths in North America.




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Spanworm Caterpillar of Geometridae
Patrick Wermelinger

Sep 16, 2010

The geometer moths or Geometridae are a family of the order Lepidoptera. A very large family, it has around 26,000 species of moths described, filmed with JVC HM-100 music by Roger Subirana Mata - Hope for Rebirth from

  Inchworm: Geometridae caterpillar
The Insect Diary

Aug 13, 2016

  Geometrid Moth Caterpillar (Geometridae)
Carl Barrentine

Jun 8, 2011

To be identified. Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (08 June 2011).




Visitor Sightings

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  Alfredo Colon
Summer 2018

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

geometer moth (Family Geometridae)  






Created: 12/30/2019

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