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Species Acronicta hasta - Speared Dagger Moth - Hodges#9229

Speared Dagger Moth - Hodges#9229 - Acronicta hasta Gray hairy caterpillar in New Jersey woods - Acronicta hasta Acronicta Dagger Moth - Acronicta hasta Speared Dagger - Acronicta hasta Acronicta hasta - Speared Dagger Moth - Acronicta hasta Acronicta hasta - male Dagger moth - Acronicta hasta Acronicta hasta
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 hasta (Speared Dagger Moth - Hodges#9229)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Cherry Dagger Moth
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
wingspan 34-45 mm
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
Life Cycle
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
See Also
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.
Internet References
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.
adult images (Larry Line, Maryland)
live larva images plus description and other info (Caterpillars of Eastern Forests, USGS)