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Great Oak Dagger (Acronicta lobeliae)


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



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image of the Great-Oak-Dagger-Moth Thumbnail image of the Great-Oak-Dagger-Moth

Short black dashes seemingly cut into the wings of the Great Oak Dagger, creating a visual texture that may help hide them.



Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 is 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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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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: lobeliae
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Acronicta lobeliae
Other Name(s): Lobelia Dagger Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 21mm to 55mm (0.82" to 2.16")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white, black, gray
Descriptors: black dash, lines, marks, bars, marbled, flying
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 21mm (0.8in) and 55mm (2.2in)
Lo: 21mm
Md: 38mm
Hi: 55mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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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 Great Oak 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 Great Oak Dagger. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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