Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members:
Acronicta Members:
1 NC Records

Acronicta lepusculina Guenée, 1852 - Cottonwood Dagger

No image for this species.
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931425.00 MONA Number: 9205.00
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. Acronicta lepusculina was included in Species Group I by Forbes (1954), which in North Carolina also includes A. rubricoma, A. americana, A. hastulifera, and A. dactylina.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-large Dagger, usually with whitish or pale gray forewings. A basal dash is usually present, at least as a smudge, unlike in other members of Forbes's Group I, where it is typically absent. The antemedian is usually represented only by a dark spot on the costa and the fold; a dark spot may also be located on the costa representing the median line. The postmedian is normally complete and moderately dentate. As in Acronicta hastulifera and A. dactylina, it may be accented by dark shading on the outer side, particularly where the anal dash crosses. The orbicular is usually small, obscure, or absent; the reniform is better defined and marked with a dark shade. Hindwings are white without dark lines on the veins. A. hastulifera and A. dactylina are similar in size, pattern, and color but lack the basal dash and usually have less sharply defined dark spots (Forbes, 1954).
Wingspan: 40-50 mm (Forbes, 1954)
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
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)

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Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Our one record comes from a ridge top with an extensive cove forest on a north-facing slope. Balsam Poplars have been observed along some of the creeks in the general area but not close to where the specimen was collected.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae feed on Cottonwoods and other poplars; also reported on alders, birches, and willows (Wagner et al., 2011). - View
See also Habitat Account for General Poplar Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S2S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.