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.


  1. i have been interested more and more lately in moths, especially the small ones which are frequently overlooked.
    Beautiful photos, especially when enlarged. Fantastic designs.

    As an artist, I marvel at the designs and colors of insects (and birds and flowers and, well anything in nature).
    As an engineer, I am fascinated in insects and plants construction.
    There is a lot to be amazed by out there.


  2. Mother Nature is grand in her diversity. I never get tired of exploring and can't wait to see what I will come across on my next outing. Moths are probably one of the most diverse in terms of coloration and pattern, even the tiniest of moths have gorgeous markings if one only takes the time to look. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind comments.

  3. Me and my granddaughter just found one of the caterpillars on the back porch today.

  4. In Osceola Missouri.