Unmarked Dagger Moth

2013 March 2

Our next moth drawn to a light on May 26, 2012 is this rather attractive white, triangular moth with black speckles. It is almost a perfect match for the pale bluish-white paint on our barn wall.

The pattern on the wings is muted, but kind of distinctive. We can just barely see here how, like all butterflies and moths, the pattern is made by a mosaic of tiny, differently-colored scales.

I would have like to have seen the whole antennae, but like a lot of moths that I’ve been posting lately it rests with them tucked under its wings.

This one took a fair bit of rummaging to identify, but I think it is most likely the Unmarked Dagger, Acronicta innotata. It’s apparently called “unmarked” because it doesn’t have the elongated “dagger” mark that most other members of its genus have. So it’s a dagger moth with no dagger.

This is a fairly northern species that starts flying early in the spring (obviously), but the adults evidently live quite a while and can be found as late as August. The caterpillars eat leaves from alder, birch, hickory[1], poplar, and willow, all of which we have growing on our property somewhere.

[1] Although, the only reason we have hickory is because we planted a few of them ourselves. Hickory doesn’t seem to have made it this far north on its own. We have one that actually sprouted from a few hickory nuts that we brought up from downstate and planted, and five more that were planted as little saplings that we got from a nursery. The one that came up from the nuts took about three years to get around to sprouting, so if any of you try planting hickory nuts, be patient.

One Response
  1. March 3, 2013

    I’ve always like moths. Your photos and stories have only increased that affection. Imagine them in a Hindu sense as fuzzy, little souls doing their mothy, fluttering best to move on to a higher form.


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