Moths of North Carolina
Scientific Name:
Common Name:
Family (Alpha):
« »
View PDFNoctuidae Members: 28 NC Records

Acronicta hastulifera (J.E. Smith, 1797) - Frosted Dagger


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931422.00 MONA Number: 9201.00
Comments: One of 74 species in this genus found in North America north of Mexico (Schmidt and Anweiler, 2020), 42 of which have been recorded in North Carolina. Hastulifera was included in Species Group I by Forbes (1954), which in North Carolina also includes rubricoma, americana, dactylina, and lepusculina.
Species Status: Although described by Smith and Abbot in 1797, this species appears to have been seldom portrayed since and the only detailed description we have found is that given by Forbes (1954).
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Most larval records come from Alder, but with a few from birch and hazel (Wagner, et al., 2011)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-large Dagger that is far more easily identified in the larval stage than in the adult. Sexes are dimorphic, the males having nearly white forewings and hindwings and the females having darker, powdery gray forewings and evenly luteous hindwings (Forbes, 1954). The postmedian of the forewings is conspicuous in both sexes: white with a sharply defined black outer edge and a diffuse or absent inner line. Dark patches are usually present on the outside of the postmedian and a dark smudge is located over the reniform spot; the orbicular is usually small, outlined in black, and circular. A basal dash is absent but a somewhat smeared anal dash is typically present. The hindwings have a median line that shows up well on the underside but more weakly above. The veins of hindwings of the male are lined with gray, but are not contrasting in the females. Acronicta dactylina is highly similar in size and wing pattern, but males usually have darker forewings than hastulifera and have a bluer-gray shade in both sexes than found in hastulifera (Forbes, 1954). The postmedian is also more sharply marked in hastulifera but less deeply excavated between the veins. Acronicta americana is also somewhat similar but is larger and easily distinguished by differences in hindwing pattern: dark fuscous in the females and luteous but with dark-lined veins in the males. Although it may be possible to identify at least some individuals of dactylina based on photographs of the adults, association with known populations of the larvae provides more confidence.
Wingspan: 50 mm (Forbes, 1954)
Adult Structural Features: Forbes (1954) states that the valves of male hastulifera are narrower and more rounded at the apex than those of dactylina.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution:
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our records all come from lake, pond, and stream shorelines
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed predominantly on Alder but have also been reported on Birch and Hazel (Wagner et al., 2011)
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for Shoreline Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S3S4
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments:

 Photo Gallery for Acronicta hastulifera - Frosted Dagger

Photos: 16

Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2018-06-16
Orange Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-02
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-06-02
Madison Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-08-12
Warren Co.
Comment: Believed to be a male hastulifera based on its whitish coloration and sharply defined outer edge of the postmedian line
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2013-06-15
Cabarrus Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-07-25
Ashe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-07-09
Warren Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Doug Blatny / Jackie Nelson on 2012-07-06
Ashe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-06-29
Ashe Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: ASH on 2011-09-27
Moore Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-08-23
Warren Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2011-06-08
Warren Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2010-05-31
Warren Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2003-10-07
Hoke Co.
Comment: Larva found feeding on Tag Alder in a Sandhills Seep
Recorded by: Stephen Hall; Scott Hartley; Chris Helms on 2000-08-28
Moore Co.
Comment: Female, captured in same stream floodplain where a larva had been observed. Wingspan = 5.1 cm; forewing length = 2.4 cm
Recorded by: Stephen Hall; Scott Hartley; Chris Helms on 2000-08-28
Moore Co.
Comment: Female, captured in same stream floodplain where a larva had been observed. Wingspan = 4.9 cm; forewing length = 2.3 cm