Anomis flava (Fabricius, 1775)
Cotton Looper
(one synonym : Cosmophila indica Guenée, 1852)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Anomis flava
early instar
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, New South Wales)

This Caterpillar is long and green, with yellowish bands between segments. It is missing one pair of prolegs, so it moves like a looper, although not related to the true loopers in GEOMETRIDAE.

Anomis flava
late instar
(Photo: courtesy of Maria Rosenfelder, Sunshine Coast, Queensland)

The caterpillar is often found in gardens on:

  • Musk Ockra ( Abelmoschus moschatus ), and
  • Hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ),

    and is an agricultural pest on :

  • Kenaf ( Hibiscus cannabinus ), and
  • Cotton ( Gossypium hirsutum ),

    all of MALVACEAE.

    The caterpillars are inclined to lie along a vein on the underside of a leaf. The caterpillars damage the leaves of their foodplant in a characteristic pattern.

    Anomis flava
    typical pattern of damage to Hibiscus leaf by Anomis flava caterpillars

    Old Chinese drawings of Hibiscus show damage to the leaves that is similar in pattern to this which we observed on the bushes in Sydney (Anomis flava is found in China). The caterpillar grows to a length of about 4 cms.

    Anomis flava
    Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)
    The Caterpillar pupates in a sparse cocoon in a curled up leaf.

    Anomis flava
    (Photo: courtesy of Maria Rosenfelder, Sunshine Coast, Queensland)

    The adult moth is brown, with an outlined pale spot near the middle, and zigzag lines across, each forewing.

    Anomis flava
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The eggs are green and flattened. They are laid on the undersides of leaves of a foodplant beside the veins.

    Anomis flava
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)

    The species occurs around most of the world including :

  • Canada,
  • Canary Islands,
  • Cook Islands,
  • Hong Kong,
  • India,
  • São Tomé and Principe,
  • Vietnam,

    and also in Australia in

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • Norfolk Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.

    Anomis flava
    head, close-up
    (Photo: courtesy of Maria Rosenfelder, Sunshine Coast, Queensland)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 44.12, pp. 65, 449.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Historiae Natvralis Favtoribvs,
    Systema Entomologiae,
    1775, p. 601, No. 46.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 125.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 4 May 2013, 6 July 2019, 16 August 2021, 7 April 2022)