Friday, August 21, 2009
5th Tennessee Arthropod---American Dagger Moth
This fuzzy little caterpillar is the larval stage of the American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana). It was photographed in my front yard in Savannah, MO about 2 weeks ago.
While we were in Tennessee I found the adult near the porch light at our cabin in Townsend, TN. These moths belong to the Noctuidae (Owlet Moths) family and are common throughout the Eastern United States. The adults reach wingspans from 2 1/2 - 3 1/4 inches and are mottled gray in color. They are the largest of all the dagger moths in the United States. The caterpillars will reach lengths up to 2 inches and are covered in dense white or pale yellow hairs. There are black "lashes" located at each end that stand up like Alfalfa's spiked hair. They feed on Birch, Oak, Alder, Ash, Willow, Maple, Elm, Poplar, Walnut and many other deciduous trees. It is not reported if the adult feeds. These moths are beautiful in both stages of life.