Distribution. Celery looper is found throughout the United States and southern Canada. There is some question whether this native species overwinters in the northern United States and Canada. Research conducted in Iowa suggested that celery looper did not overwinter successfully, but was carried into the area in the spring when the appropriate weather patterns developed (Peterson et al., 1988). This is highly plausible, as many other noctuids similarly overwinter in the south and disperse northward annually. However, there also are reports of this insect overwintering in the north in the larval stage, and adult activity was reported in New York from April to November (Chapman and Lienk, 1981).
Host Plants. The host range of this insect is poorly known, but it appears that celery looper feeds on a wide variety of plants. Among vegetables damaged are celery, beet, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, and pea. Corn has been reported to be a host plant, but this is questionable. It is an occasional pest of sugarbeet and has been reported to feed on cranberry and hollyhock. Weeds fed upon include dandelion, Taraxacum officinale; plantain, Plantago sp.; and a burdock, Arctium lappa. Coquillett (1881) reported oviposition on grass, so larvae also may develop on unknown grasses. Adults have been observed taking nectar from clover and lilac blossoms. Moths have also been found to be contaminated with pollen from several plant taxa, including Quercus, Rosaceae, and Pyrus, indicating an extensive range of adult host plants (Lingren et al., 1993).
Natural Enemies. Little is known concerning the insect enemies of celery looper. A nuclear polyhedro-sis virus is widespread and highly pathogenic to celery looper, and may be the key factor that limits abundance of this insect. This virus is unusual in that it is also pathogenic to numerous other species of Lepi-doptera, affecting over 30 species in 10 families (Hostetter and Puttler, 1991).
Life Cycle and Description. Most reports suggest 2-3 generations annually in northern states (Knutson, 1944). However, the generations overlap and it is difficult to discern population dynamics solely from capture rates of adults. For example, Chapman and Lienk (1981) presented data from New York showing continuous occurrence of moths in all but the coldest months. Peterson et al. (1988) conducted a study in Iowa that included determination of ovary development, which aids in assessing the age of insects. Based on these studies, there were four generations annually.
The biology of celery looper is poorly documented. Some elements of the biology were given by Coquillett (1881), Chittenden (1902), and Peterson et al. (1988). Information on rearing and artificial diet were found in Treat and Halfhill (1973). Keys for the differentiation of celery looper moths from related species were given by Rings (1977a), Eichlin and Cunningham (1978), and Capinera and Schaefer (1983). Larvae are included in the keys of Crumb (1956), Capinera (1986), and in a key to common vegetable-feeding loopers in Appendix A.
The larva is a defoliator, eating holes in the leaves of lettuce, celery, and other crops. It has been known to be destructive in Florida (Ball et al., 1932), but generally this insect is considered to be a minor pest. It sometimes is a serious contaminant of peas harvested for canning and freezing.
Moths of this species can be monitored with a blacklight trap. Butler et al. (1977) provided information on trapping celery looper with a sex pheromone. Insecticides applied to commercial or home garden crops for other insect pests are adequate to keep celery looper at very low levels of abundance. The microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis is effective.
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