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Yellow-haired Dagger Moth (Acronicta impleta)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Yellow-haired Dagger Moth

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Viola M., taken in Matlock, WA
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Image Credit: Viola M., taken in Matlock, WA
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A very gray moth, the Yellow-haired Dagger seems to be more colorful as a caterpillar.

Updated: 09/20/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
It is hard to find any yellow on the Yellow-haired Dagger. Perhaps for this reason, it is becoming more commonly known as the Powdered Dagger. The moth is generally a peppered gray color with a black ring on each wing. Jagged lines cross the lower part of the wings in black and white, like a zigzag. The gray thorax and upper legs are hairy. The lower legs have white and dark bands. Look for them in deciduous forests or near trees. The cryptic coloring of the moth may allow it to blend in with lichen-covered tree trunks.

Caterpillars have some variability in color. Most that are spotted are generally black and covered in spiky yellow-orange hairs that grow out of pale bumps around each segment. Dense clumps, or tufts, of orange hairs by the head resemble the kind seen in Tussock moth caterpillars. The rear end has two clusters of long hairs. Some caterpillars may have white bodies, and other caterpillars may be black and white with a scarlet red side stripe. Others are rust-colored or completely black and white. All are covered in spiky hairs that do not seem to hurt skin. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of ash, alder, elm, maple, hickory, and walnut. Two broods can be produced each year.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying 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: impleta

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Acronicta impleta
Other Name(s): Powdered Dagger Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 21mm to 27mm (0.82" to 1.06")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; gray; yellow
Descriptors: gray; pepper; black ring; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 21mm (0.8in) and 27mm (1.1in)
Lo: 21mm
Md: 24mm
Hi: 27mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Yellow-haired Dagger Moth 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 Yellow-haired Dagger Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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