Winter has been gradually giving way to spring, and the other day I was greeted by this Half-Wing moth (Lepidoptera: Geometridae: Phigalia titea) resting on my front door. These insects are found mostly near wooded areas of the eastern US, and adults are generally active between February and July depending on latitude. The individual shown here is a male; females have wings that are small and they are consequently flightless.
As members of the family Geometridae, these moths give birth to larvae with an interesting mode of locomotion. Commonly known as “inchworms,” these caterpillars inch themselves along surfaces using a “looping” movement. The Greek family name literally means “to measure the earth.” Larvae spend most of their time measuring and devouring the leaves of a wide variety of deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs. While some species are considered pests, this particular species is mostly harmless.