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Species Acronicta insita - Large Gray Dagger - Hodges#9202

Fingered Dagger - Acronicta insita Unidentified Caterpillar - NE Oregon - Acronicta insita Brown and yellow caterpillar - Acronicta insita Olympic Caterpillar - Acronicta insita Caterpillar - Acronicta insita Lep - Acronicta insita fingered dagger - Acronicta insita fingered dagger - Acronicta insita
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
Subfamily Acronictinae
Genus Acronicta (Dagger Moths)
Species insita (Large Gray Dagger - Hodges#9202)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Alder Dagger
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Acronicta insita (Walker, 1856)
Acronicta dactylina (Grote, 1874)
Acronicta hesperida (Smith, 1897)
uncommon, but widely distributed
wingspan 45-55 mm
Adult: Powdery gray FW with darker markings and whitish HW. FW with the normal markings somewhat broken and blurred, the outer part of the PM and a partial reniform spot most prominent. The orbicular spot is a small, hollow ring. There is no basal dash. The anal "dagger mark" is blurred but obvious. The male hindwings are white with grey scales along the veins. The female is larger and is more heavily dusted with grey on the hindwings. Antennae in both sexes are simple.
Larva: body covered with stiff orange or brown hair dorsally, and pale yellowish or white hair laterally, with several much longer black hairs and white hairs concentrated near the front and back (may also have three dense dorsal tufts of long black hair on abdominal segments 1, 3, and 8)
all of United States and southern Canada (Newfoundland to Florida, west through Texas to California, north to British Columbia)
deciduous and mixedwood forest
adults may be active from April to September but normally have a more restricted flight season (May to August, or just June and July, depending on location)
larvae present from July to October
larvae feed on alder, birch, poplar, hawthorn, willow
Life Cycle
one generation per year; overwinters as a pupa in leaves or debris protected in tough oval cocoon of coarse silk and hair (1)
Life cycle images:
Large, pale, poorly marked adults of western populations were previously considered a separate species (Acronicta hesperida).
See Also
American Dagger which is darker grey-brown on both wings and has a doubled, white-filled PM. (compare images of both species)
Cottonwood Dagger, which is smaller and has narrower wings with a basal dash on the FW.
Works Cited
1.Photo Field Guide to Some Caterpillars of Southern Ontario
Ian Carmichael and Ann Vance. 2004. St. Thomas Field Naturalist Club Incorporated.