alfalfa looper
Autographa californica (Speyer)


Autographa californica is a pest of a variety of forage plants and vegetable crops, as well as native plants. It seems to prefer legumes. It is common, even abundant throughout western North America. A. californica is a medium-sized strongly mottled blue-gray moth with a long lateral part to the silver-white stigma and a patch of chestnut brown. The head and thorax are gray to brown-gray with darker barring on the collar and dark and light gray on the edges of the wing attachment and posterior tufts. Additional tufts are present on the abdomen. The antennae of both sexes are simple and alike.
Life Cycle
Larvae are smooth with only two pairs of abdominal prolegs. They are green with a thin white lateral line. Larvae feed on a wide range of plants. Adults are partially diurnal, and frequently visit flowers for nectar in open meadow habitats during the day. They are most commonly collected during the night and come readily to lights. In late fall, they can be quite common and found nectaring during the afternoon. Adults fly from February to November in the south; May to October in the north. Larvae present from early spring through late fall. Several generations per year can be produced.
A. californica is a western species, found from northern Mexico to Alaska, east to Manitoba, South Dakota, Kansas and New Mexico. It is a widespread, common species, and a crop pest south of Alberta. They prefer open meadows, hayfields, croplands, gardens and woodland edges.
Control Efforts
A. californica is very similar to several related species.

Selected Images

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Atelocerata
Class: Hexapoda (including Insecta)
Infraclass: Neoptera
Subclass: Pterygota
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Noctuidae
Subfamily: Plusiinae
Tribe: Plusiini
Genus: Autographa
Subject: Autographa californica (Speyer)