Geometroidea of Canada

Introduction

We illustrate the 500+ species of the superfamily Geometroidea that occur in Canada, about one third of the North American fauna. The superfamily Geometroidea includes the family Geometridae (Inchworm, Spanworm or Looper Moths), and the family Uraniidae (Sunset or Swallowtail Moths). The Uraniidae is a large family of colourful moths, well represented in the tropics, but with only two species found in Canada. Most geometrid larvae have only two pairs of prolegs toward the rear end so when the walk, they "inch" their way along. Geometrid larvae usually attack the foliage of woody plants, thus many species are economically important pests of tree fruits, berry crops, and forest trees.

The geometrids are divided into six subfamilies. Literature is available for the Canadian representatives of many of these subfamilies:

  • Alsophilinae is a small subfamily with one Canadian species and treated (as Oenochrominae) in McGuffin (1988).
  • Archiearinae is a small subfamily with three Canadian species, two of which are treated in McGuffin (1988). The moths are diurnal.
  • Ennominae is a large subfamily with 16 tribes in Canada. McGuffin (1972, 1977, 1981, & 1987) provides keys, distribution maps and illustrates the Canadian fauna but does not revise genera or describe new species. Rindge (1965, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1978, & 1979) revised the genera Stenoporpia, Lytrosis, Hesperumia, Plataea, Xanthotype, and Lomographa respectively, but much more work is needed in the other ennomiine genera. Generally, ennomine moths have a hindwing pattern that resembles that of the forewing.
  • Subfamily Geometrinae includes three tribes, with Canadian representatives covered in McGuffin (1988) and a more complete revision of the North American fauna by Ferguson (1985). The moths are usually green (orange brown if they have come in contact with water).
  • Subfamily Larentiinae is represented by eight tribes in Canada. This is a large and taxonomically difficult subfamily, historically avoided by most taxonomists. The genus Hydriomena was revised by McDunnough (1954). The genus Eupithecia was revised by Bolte (1990) and examination of genital characters illustrated in that work are usually necessary to separate species. The genus Entephria was revised by Troubridge (1997); however, most other larentiine genera are in need of work. Generally, larentiine moths have drably coloured hind wings and banded forewings. The bodies are slender compared to the wing sizes so they appear fragile.
  • Subfamily Sterrhinae has four tribes in Canada with the species discussed in McGuffin (1967) and a more recent revision of the genus Scopula by Covell (1970). The moths are small (expanse 1-2 cm).

We provide illustrated regional lists for each province and territory. The Image Library may be useful as an identification guide. Our classification follows Scoble (1999). Species are listed in alphabetical order by family, subfamily, tribe, genus, and species.

Throughout the provincial lists and Image Library, small boxes are found beside each species name. By clicking these boxes and then clicking on the bar at the bottom of each page, enlarged images of the selected species will be displayed on a new page. The scale units on all images are centimeters. A maximum of 45 species can be selected at one time.

With the retirement of Dr. Frederick Rindge from the American Museum of Natural History and the death of Dr. Douglas Ferguson of the United States National Museum, we are left with no geometrid specialists working in North America. Most genera are in need of revision and we are aware of many undescribed species in the Canadian fauna. Because these species are without names, they are omitted from this biodiversity inventory. Species identifications are based on determinations in the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Ottawa, Ontario.

References and further reading

  • Bolte, K. B. 1990. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). VI. Subfamily Larentiinae. 1. Revision of the genus Eupithecia. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 151: 1-253.
  • Covell, C. C. 1970. A revision of the North American species of the genus Scopula (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 96: 101-221.
  • Ferguson, D. C. 1974. Moths of the Semiothisa signaria complex (Lepidoptera: Geometridae). Canadian Entomologist 106: 569-621.
  • Ferguson, D. C. 1985. Geometroidea, Geometridae (Part). In: Dominick, R. B. et al., The Moths of America North of Mexico, fascicle 18.12: 1-131, text figures 1-32, colour plates 1-4. E.W. Classey Ltd., London, England.
  • Handfield, L. 1999. Le guide des Papillons du Québec. Vol. 1. 1-982 + 123 color plates. Broquet, Boucherville, Québec.
  • McDunnough, J. 1954. The species of the genus Hydriomena occurring in America north of Mexico (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) American Museum Novitates. No. 1592. 17pp.
  • McGuffin, W. C. 1967. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). I. Subfamily Sterrhinae. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 50: 1-67.
  • McGuffin, W. C. 1972. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). II. Subfamily Ennominae. 1. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 86: 1-159.
  • McGuffin, W. C. 1977. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). III. Subfamily Ennominae. 2. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 101: 1-191.
  • McGuffin, W. C. 1981. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). IV. Subfamily Ennominae. 3. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 117: 1-153.
  • McGuffin, W. C. 1987. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). V. Subfamily Ennominae. 4. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 138: 1-182.
  • McGuffin, W. C. 1988. Guide to the Geometridae of Canada (Lepidoptera). III, IV, and V. Subfamilies Archiearinae, Oenochrominae, and Geometrinae. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 145: 1- 56.
  • Minet, J. and M. J. Scoble. Chapter 17. The Drepanoid/ Geometroid assemblage, pp. 301- 320 in Kristensen, Neils P. ed. 1999. Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies. Part 35, Vol. 1 in Handbook of Zoology. Maximilian Fischer ed. Walter de Gryter, New York. 491 pp.
  • Rindge, F. H. 1965. A revision of the moth genus Stenoporpia (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum of Natural History Bulletin 140(2): 65-134.
  • Rindge, F. H. 1971. A revision of the moth genus Lytrosis (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum of Natural History Novitates 2474: 21 pp.
  • Rindge, F. H. 1974. A revision of the moth genus Hesperumia (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum of Natural History Novitates 2561: 24 pp.
  • Rindge, F. H. 1976. A revision of the moth genus Plataea (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum of Natural History Novitates 2595: 27 pp.
  • Rindge, F. H. 1978. A revision of the moth genus Xanthotype (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum of Natural History Novitates 2659: 24 pp.
  • Rindge, F. H. 1979. A revision of the North American moths of the genus Lomographa (Lepidoptera, Geometridae). American Museum of Natural History Novitates 2673: 18 pp.
  • Scoble, M. J. 1999. Geometrid Moths of the World. A Catalogue. NHM Publishing, London. 1312 pp.
  • Troubridge, J. T. 1997. Revision of the nearctic species of the genus Entephria Hübner (Lepidoptera: Geometridae, Larentiinae), Entomologica Scandinavica 28(2): 121-139.

For more information, contact Don Lafontaine.