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

Acronicta dolli (Barnes & McDunnough, 1918) - Doll's Dagger

No image for this species.
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931492.00 MONA Number: 9277.00 MONA Synonym: Merolonche dolli
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. This species was previously placed in a separate genus, Merolonche, but was moved to Acronicta by Lafontaine and Schmidt (2010).
Field Guide Descriptions: Not in either field guideOnline Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Schweitzer et al. (2011); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Schweitzer et al. (2011); Wagner et al. (2011); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized Noctuid with dark to medium gray forewings and whitish hindwings (Forbes, 1954; Schweitzer et al., 2011). The transverse lines are filled with white and outlined heavily with black; the postmedian is zig-zagged and the antemedian is scalloped. The reniform and orbicular spots are pale (Forbes, 1954) or connected by a pale patch (Schweitzer et al., 2011).
Wingspan: 37 mm
Adult Structural Features: The antennae of the males are shortly pectinate (serrate) and have large triangular lobes on their ventral surface; this contrasts with the simple, prismatic antennae found in other species of Acronicta (Forbes, 1954).
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are jet black with a prominent, broken red band along the sides and a continuous, pale spiracular stripe (Schweitzer et al., 2011; Wagner et al., 2011). Setae are contrastingly white.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Restricted to the Mountains 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)

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Flight Comments: Univoltine, with an early spring flight period.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is associated with barrens habitat farther north. Our one record comes a stand of pines and hardwoods located about 600 meters from an area of Low Elevation Acidic Glade habitat on a rocky summit.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, feeding on a wide range of shrubs and trees (Wagner et al., 2011); heaths and scrub oaks are commonly used in its typical barrens habitats. Wagner specifically lists oak, and Schweitzer et al. (2011) report blueberry and ash are used as host plants. - View
Observation Methods: Schweitzer et al. (2011) report that adults of this species are difficult to collect. In contrast, larvae are apparently easily collected through beating shrubs and small trees; young larvae are also often conspicuous when they are at rest on the upper sides of leaves.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Acidic Barrens and Glades
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G3G4 S1S2
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species is generally considered to be rare across its range, and our sole record for it, at the extreme southern end of its range, is consistent with that view. Schweitzer et al. (2011), however, believe it is more common than the records for adults indicate. Larval surveys are needed in order to determine its true abundance, distribution, and habitat affinities in North Carolina.