Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 281 NC Records

Acronicta americana (Harris, 1841) - American Dagger


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931421.00 MONA Number: 9200.00
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. Americana was included in Species Group I by Forbes (1954), which in North Carolina also includes rubricoma, hastulifera, dactylina, and lepusculina.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Our largest Dagger. Forewings are pale gray with the postmedian usually the most prominent marking: a scalloped, double, white-filled line with both the inner and outer edges well defined and darker than the ground color, at least when fresh. The orbicular is oval shaped and also pale-filled but the large horseshoe-shaped reniform has a fuscous filling. No basal dash is present but there is typically a slender, black anal dash. The hindwings are sexually dimorphic, being dark fuscous in the females and a paler luteous in the males; the veins are lined with dark in both sexes but are more contrasting in the males (Forbes, 1954). A distinct median line is also present on the hindwing (Covell, 1984), at least on the underside, but shows through to the upperside to a varying extent. Acronicta dactylina and hastulifera are smaller but have forewings with a similar pattern. The inner edge of the postmedian in those species is more diffuse or absent (Forbes, 1954), but can be very similar to that of worn americana. In both dactylina and hastulifera, the outer side of the postmedian tends to be more darkly shaded, at least where the anal dash crosses it, and the reniform is usually covered with a dark smudge. In americana, the postmedian area is usually the same or only slightly darker than the ground color and the dark shade in the reniform is more confined to the center. The hindwing of female americana is much darker than those of the other species and is diagnostic. In male americana, the hindwing is about the same shade as the females of the other two species, but the dark veins are much more contrasting. Males of both dactylina and hastulifera have nearly white hindwings, lined with gray, which easily distinguishes them from americana (Forbes, 1954). Although Covell (1984) states that a median line on the hindwing is characteristic of americana, both dactylina and hastulifera also possess them, again usually most strongly marked on the underside of the wing but showing through to the upperside in some cases.
Wingspan: 50-62 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
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
Immature 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: Wagner et al. (2011) list woodlands and forests as habitats used by this species. Our records come from the most of the hardwood habitats found in the state except for maritime forest in the southern Coastal Plain. We do not have records from pocosins or maritime shrublands, or other sites dominated by shrubs rather than trees.
Larval Host Plants: Larvae are widely polyphagous on hardwood trees and shrubs (Wagner et al., 2011)
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S5
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 americana - American Dagger

60 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-05
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2021-05-31
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-05-21
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-05-21
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-05-01
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-09-04
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-08-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-08-28
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-08-28
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-08-27
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-15
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Heather Burditt on 2020-08-10
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-08-09
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: McIntyre on 2020-08-09
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-25
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-07-11
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2020-06-25
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-24
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-06-12
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-06-02
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall on 2020-05-23
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-08-17
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-08-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-07-26
Alamance Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2019-07-03
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-07
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-05-27
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2018-09-01
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2018-08-11
Yancey Co.
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