Short black dashes seemingly cut into the wings of the Great Oak Dagger, creating a visual texture that may help hide them.
Like many Dagger Moths, the Great Oak Dagger is gray. Symmetrical black lines, or daggers, run down both forewings. One pair of these black lines sits near the upper 'shoulder' area, and one sits by the rear end. A third, curvy pair are in the center of the forewings, touching a faint white spot at the top. Two more marks split the bottom edges of the forewings in half. A checkered fringe lines all the wing bottoms. A wavy white line runs across the lower part of all the wings. A tuft of white hairs may be visible where the tops of the wings connect when flat.
The Great Oak Dagger caterpillar changes its colors and patterns after molting. At one point, it may be white and black, or white and orange with sparse, long hairs extending off the entire body. At other times in its life, it is green or completely white with red 'eyes' on its white head. Regardless of the life stage, the caterpillar feeds on the leaves of oak trees, though not significantly enough to harm the tree.
Great Oak Daggers have a range that covers the entire continent, just like their host tree. Two broods are usually produced each year. Adults are active all of summer and are nocturnal. Artificial lights at night can lure them into areas for evening viewing.
Scientific Name: Acronicta lobeliae
Other Name(s): Lobelia Dagger Moth
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 21mm to 55mm (0.82in to 2.15in)
Colors: white, black, gray
Descriptors: black dash, lines, marks, bars, marbled, flying
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.