smeared dagger

(Acronicta oblinita)

smeared dagger
  Hodges #

9272

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Smeared dagger is a medium-sized, widespread but uncommon dagger moth. It occurs in the United States east of the Great Plains and in adjacent Canadian provinces, with a separate population in Alberta, and a handful of records on the West Coast. It is uncommon throughout its range. In Minnesota it is more common in the north, less common in the south. It is found in open woodlands, woodland edges, meadows, bogs, and wetlands.

Adults are ¾ to 1 (20 to 28 mm) long and have a wingspan of 17 16 to 2 (36 to 54 mm).

The forewings are long, narrow, pale to medium gray, dull, and heavily marked with obscure, dark gray streaks. They are longer and narrower, and have less sharply defined markings, than other North American dagger moths. There is a circular spot in the median area (orbicular spot) and a kidney-shaped spot at the end of the discal cell (reniform spot). The orbicular spot is a thin dark circle. It is usually incomplete, open at the top and bottom. The reniform spot also has an incomplete dark outline and is usually slightly darker than the background color. There are indistinct, strongly jagged, antemedial (AM) and postmedial (PM) lines. The PM line is accented with a row of dark triangles. The terminal line consists of a series of conspicuous black spots between the veins. The hindwings are white with a terminal line of black spots between the veins.

The caterpillar is known as the smartweed caterpillar. However, it is a generalist, feeding on a wide range of forbs, shrubs, and trees. It also feeds on agricultural crops, where it can cause defoliation and is considered a pest. The late stage (instar) caterpillar is up to 19 16 (4 cm) long and is highly variable in color. It is usually mostly black. The breathing pores (spiracles) are white and there is a large, bright yellow, inverted V-shaped blotch between the spiracles. There are numerous tufts of mostly equal-length, bristle-like hairs (setae) on raised warts on each thoracic and abdominal segment. On some individuals the warts are reddish. The hairs are irritating (urticating), and will cause a stinging sensation if the caterpillar is handled. There are sometimes white spots in the subdorsal area, and they sometimes coalesce into a stripe. Mature caterpillars are found from May through November.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: ¾ to 1 (20 to 28 mm)

Wingspan: 17 16 to 2 (36 to 54 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Open woodlands, woodland edges, meadows, bogs, wetlands

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation per year in Minnesota: May through July

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults are active at night and will come to lights.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Pupa overwinter

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Many forbs, shrubs, trees, and grasses, including clover, corn, smartweed, strawberry, fireweed, cattail, alder, apple, birch, aspen, elm, oak, willow, and pine.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 21, 27, 29, 30, 71, 75.

 
  10/23/2019      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Noctuoidea (noctuid moths)  
 

Family

Noctuidae (owlet moths)  
 

Subfamily

Acronictinae  
 

Genus

Acronicta  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Acronicta arioch

Oligia arioch

Oligia oblinita

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

smartweed caterpillar (larva)

smeared dagger

smeared dagger moth

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Instar

The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph

 

Orbicular spot

A circular spot or outline in the outer median area near the antemedial line on the forewing of many moths.

 

Reniform spot

A kidney-shaped spot or outline in the outer median area near the postmedial line on the forewing of many moths.

 

Seta

A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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    smeared dagger   smeared dagger  
           
    smeared dagger      
           

 

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Other Videos
 
  Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar (Noctuidae: Acronicta oblinita?) on Leaf
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Aug 9, 2010

Photographed at the Agassiz NWR, Minnesota (02 August 2010). Thank you to John and Jane Balaban (@Bugguide.net) for identifying this specimen!

 
       

 

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Created: 10/23/2019

Last Updated:

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