Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFNoctuidae Members: 304 NC Records

Acronicta increta Morrison, 1874 - Southern Oak Dagger

Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: NoctuidaeSubfamily: AcronictinaeP3 Number: 931467.00 MONA Number: 9249.00
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. This species is placed in subgenus Lepitoreuma by Schmidt and Anweiler (2020), and in the Increta Species Group. Other members of this group in North Carolina include albarufa, ovata, modica (=haesitata), immodica (=modica), exilis, and tristis.
Species Status: It has long been suspected that Acronicta increta and inclara were part of a species complex. Forbes (1954) thought that Acronicta inclara was probably the normal gray phase of increta and both Rings et al. (1992) and Wagner et al. (2011) combined the two under increta, as does Schmidt and Anweiler (2020). That is how we are currently treating this species.
Field Guide Descriptions: Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1954); Schmidt and Anweiler (2020)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A medium-sized Dagger. The ground color varies from pale gray (form inclara) to dark gray with a greenish or olive cast (typical increta) (Forbes, 1954). In addition to having a dark basal dash and antemedian line, most of the basal area is conspicuously darker than the median portion of the wing, giving this species a bicolored appearance. The antemedian line is double and extends from the base of the wing all the way to the costa (in ovata, the antemedian typically fades out before reaching the costa); a yellowish spot or patch is usually visible at the base of the inner margin. The subtornal dash found in other members of this group is weak or absent but a dark wedge is often present that extends from the outer margin in along the fold. The orbicular is outlined with pale gray, with a spot of the same color in the center; otherwise the filling consists of the ground color and the orbicular overall does not strongly contrast with the rest of the median area. The reniform is larger but similar in outline, but usually is marked with reddish or greenish. The hindwings are fuscous with darker veins. Most other Acronicta species are not as bicolored in appearance as increta. Acronicta tristis, however, is very similar in wing pattern but lacks the greenish cast found in the dark forms of increta (Forbes, 1954).
Wingspan: 32-35 mm (Forbes, 1954)
Adult Structural Features: Apart from size -- which distinguishes exilis from the others -- members of the Increta Species Group show essentially no structural differences, including reproductive structures (Schmidt and Anweiler, 2020)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.

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Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

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