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American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

The long yellow hairs of the American Dagger Moth Caterpillar look soft enough to pet, but contact with them causes immediate itching and burning.


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae
Genus: Acronicta
Species: americana

Caterpillar Details

The American Dagger Moth Caterpillar becomes the American Dagger.

0.0 " to 1.9 " (1mm to 50mm)

yellow hair, pale yellow, white, hairy, fuzzy, soft, black, black head, four black lashes, long black hairs sticking up, black bristles, stinging, painful, burning, rash
Hairs on the American Dagger Moth Caterpillar can break off into skin and sting, causing hives, burning sensations, and general skin irritation, so handling this larva is not recommended. The body is covered in short tufts of yellow hairs, and longer wispy yellow hairs as well. Long black lashes extend from the body and can be over 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. If the caterpillar is found in a place where children play, like parks and playgrounds, a stick can be a handy tool in removing it from the area.

The diet of this caterpillar is mainly maple and boxelder leaves, but it does feed on other types of tree leaves, too. During the day, the caterpillar rests and is usually tucked away in a shelter. It comes out at night to nibble on leaves, cutting them off at the petiole ('leaf stem').

The adult form, the American Dagger Moth, is a grayish moth with sharp, black lines at the bottom of its wings. Two broods of caterpillars can be produced each year.©CaterpillarIdentification.org

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar Diet

maple; boxelder; oak; ash; alder; basswood; chestnut; elm; apple; hickory; willow

Territorial Areas

Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico.
Prince Edward Is.  
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The map above showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the American Dagger Moth Caterpillar may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species 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.*NOTE: States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the American Dagger Moth Caterpillar. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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