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  • American Dagger Moth - (Acronicta americana)

    American Dagger Moth - (Acronicta americana)

    The large adult American Dagger Moth may seem harmless, but its bristly, stinging caterpillar has a reputation for teaching small children not to touch everything they see.

    Staff Writer (8/28/2017): The largest of the Dagger Moths, the American Dagger Moth is found east of the Rocky Mountains. It is most active from spring to early autumn and can be found in areas with deciduous trees like parks, backyards, forests and woodlands.

    The adult may be considered drab in appearance compared to its larval form. The caterpillar is completely covered in bright yellow/green bristles. Four long bunches of black bristles extend from the body near the head and midsection. A fifth bunch of these extra long black bristles comes out near the rear of the caterpillar. The bristles sting when touched or disturbed. Many curious children have unwittingly picked up these fuzzy, bright creatures and consequently experience and burning, itching sensation on their skin which can develop into a rash. Larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of popular neighborhood trees like oak, ash, elm, alder, willow and maple. This close proximity to backyards and schoolyards can increase the likelihood of an encounter.

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    Details of the:
    American Dagger Moth

    Category: Butterfly or Moth
    Common name: American Dagger Moth
    Scientific Name: Acronicta americana

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Lepidoptera
          Family: Noctuidae
           Genus: Acronicta
            Species: americana

    Size (Adult, Length): 50mm to 65mm (1.97in to 2.56in)

    Identifying Colors: brown, gray, white, yellow, black

    Additional Descriptors: speckled, flying, fuzzy, stinging

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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