Moths of North Carolina
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6 NC Records

Acronicta lanceolaria (Grote, 1875) - Narrow-winged Dagger

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931488.00 MONA Number: 9274.00
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 lanceolaria is a member of Species Group V of Forbes (1954), which in North Carolina also includes A. impleta, A. noctivaga, A. impressa, A. longa, A. oblinita, and A. sinescripta.
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1954); Wagner et al.(2011); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium sized, pale gray Acronicta. A. lanceolaria is similar to both A. oblinita and A. sinescripta in possessing narrow forewings with little or no dark transverse lines, and whitish hindwings. A. lanceolaria is larger than these other two and has narrower forewings and a more strongly pointed apex. Like A. sinescripta, there may be a dark streak located where the reniform spot usually occurs, but it lacks the basal dash found in that species (Ferguson, 1988). Although markings are usually more reduced in A. lanceolaria than in the other species, Ferguson noted that A. lanceolaria often has a pale, sinuous postmedian that is absent in A. sinescripta and is better defined and dentate in A. oblinita. The row of terminal dark dots characteristic of A. oblinita is missing in A. lanceolaria.
Wingspan: 40-45 mm
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are pale green with dark dorsal and lateral stripes (Forbes, 1954, following Dyar; Wagner et al., 2011). The body is covered with pale hair projecting from large, conspicuous warts; secondary hair is lacking (Forbes, 1954). Larvae of oblinita are somewhat similar but not greenish and usually possess yellow lateral blotches.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Appears to be restricted to the Outer Coastal Plain in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Univoltine, flying only in the early spring
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: All of our few records for this species come from wet shrublands, including pocosins, depression ponds, and wet pine flatwoods
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, feeding on a wide variety of shrubs and small hardwoods. Forbes (1954) specifically lists Willow, Poplar, Blueberry, Wild Cherry, and Sweetfern. Wagner et al. (2011) add Alder, Blackberry, Bush Clover, Oak, Pine, and other species. - View
Observation Methods: Adults are rarely collected at lights and almost never at bait (Wagner et al., 2011). Larvae are more easily found than the adults.
See also Habitat Account for General Coastal Plain Shrublands and Thickets
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: W3
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 S3?->[S2S3]
State Protection: Placed on the NHP Watch List. Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Despite feeding on a wide range of host plants, this species appears to be strongly specialized on shrublands associated with both peatlands and barrens. We have very few records for adults of this species but more extensive larval surveys need to be conducted in pocosins, flatwoods, and upland heath barrens in order to determine its actual distribution, abundance, and habitat associations in North Carolina. Only after that information has been obtained can its conservation status be determined.

 Photo Gallery for Acronicta lanceolaria - Narrow-winged Dagger

Photos: 1

Recorded by: JBS, SPH, DFS on 1994-03-08
Brunswick Co.
Comment: Wingspan = 4.6cm; forewing length = 2.2cm