Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Acronicta furcifera Guenee 1852
* phylogenetic sequence #931445
Explanation of Names
HASTA: from the Latin "hasta" (a spear) - the origin of the common name, Speared Dagger, presumably referring to the shape of the streaks on the forewing
Adult: forewing dark gray with 4 heavy black streaks - basal, anal, between orbicular and reniform spot, and at outer wing edge below reniform spot (basal steak is especially long and broad, sometimes extending more than half length of wing); orbicular and reniform spots usually faint/inconspicuous; contrast between ground color of wing and streaks not as great as in similar species, mentioned in "See also" section below
Larva: middle instars bright green with broad yellow and red dorsal stripe; head with red band over vertex forking to either side of triangle, commonly with triangle and cheeks greenish; last instar charcoal black with stunning red dorsal line; head black, sometimes reddish at top; both forms sparsely set with soft hairlike setae
[description adapted from Caterpillars of Eastern Forests]
eastern United States, New Brunswick, Ontario, and British Columbia
adults fly from April/May to September
larvae June to October
larvae feed on cherry, oak, and plum
two or more generations per year in the south; one or two in the north
Life cycle images:
1.4th instar larva 2.late instar larva 4.adult
Forked Dagger (A. furcifera
) and Lobelia Dagger (A. lobeliae
) also have 4 prominent streaks on forewing, but they both show more contrast between the streaks and the wing's ground color, plus the former is lighter gray with a more prominent orbicular spot, and the latter has an overall brownish-yellow color rather than gray. Compare images
of all 3 species.
Update: Acronicta hasta now includes as a synonym Acronicta furcifera.
Moth Photographers Group
- range map, photos of living and pinned adults.
BOLD - Barcode of Life Data Systems
- species account with photographs of pinned adults and collection map.
(Larry Line, Maryland)
live larva images
plus description and other info (Caterpillars of Eastern Forests, USGS)