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Fingered Dagger (Acronicta dactylina)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Fingered Dagger



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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The very gray Fingered Dagger has few dark lines or bold markings compared to other Daggers, which can make it difficult to identify.



Updated: 03/23/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Most Dagger moths have long, black lines that cut down the wings. This species lacks them save one small set by the bottom, inner wings. A small dark ring sits near the center of each gray forewing and may prove more helpful in identifying it. A faint band at the bottom of the wings may show a scalloped line that crosses, but the lack of prominent markings gives this moth an almost plain gray appearance. The hairy gray thorax is dense, but unmarked.

Caterpillars of the Fingered Dagger Moth feed on the leaves of alder, birch, poplar, and willow trees. The hairy black body has multiple tufts of orange hairs on top. Long sets of black lashes extend beyond the orange hairs near the head and the rear end. White, wispy hairs grow out of the sides of the body and face.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Patterned insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Acronicta
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            Species: dactylina
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Acronicta dactylina
Other Name(s): Alder Dagger Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 24mm to 29mm (0.94" to 1.14")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: gray; black
Descriptors: powdery; small ring spot; black checkered edge; furry; thick; flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 24mm (0.9in) and 29mm (1.1in)
Lo: 24mm
Md: 26.5mm
Hi: 29mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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State of Delware graphic
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State of New Jersey graphic
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State of North Carolina graphic
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State of Washington graphic
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Fingered Dagger may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Fingered Dagger. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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