Acronicta albarufa Grote, 1874
Barrens Dagger Moth
NatureServe Global Rank: G3G4
Virginia State Rank: S1S3
VA DGIF Tier: IV
Federal Legal Status: None
Virginia Legal Status: None
Description: The Barrens Dagger Moth is a medium-sized (30-35mm) moth with a rather dark, slatey, blue-gray ground color on the forewings. There is a conspicuously brown to slightly orange reniform spot, and a prominent, rounded orbicular spot containing a darker spot. The hindwing is dark brownish on females and almost white with dark veins on most males. A few males have a distinctive outer portion of the hindwing that is somewhat rust tinted.
Similar species: Acronicta ovata is similar but lighter in color, especially the hindwings of the females.
North American Range: This species resides in a very fragmented range, less than twenty places in North America. There are two main portions from eastern Massachusetts to Albany, New York south to southern New Jersey and the North Carolina Piedmont sand hills; the second portion is from the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas to Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. There are some outliers in Ontario and enormous gaps including most of several northeastern states and northern mid-west. There is one record of the Barrens Dagger Moth in Hanover County, Virginia.
VA Observations by Locality: Hanover
Flight season and broods: Adults are active in late May through early September in New Jersey and Missouri, but northward they are active usually in July or early August. This is a non-migratory moth. There is only one brood northward that flies from the end of May well into August, and the adults peak from mid-July to early August. There is at least a partial second small brood southward where adults peak in late August.
Habitat and Food Plants: The Barrens Dagger Moth can be found in mixed and hardwood forest, woodland, savanna, and shrubland. Larvae feed on a variety of oaks including Post Oak (Quercus stellata), Black Oak (Quercus velutina), and Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica).
Behavior and Ecology: Larvae occur from June to late October. The egg stage lasts about six days, and the larval stage is typically twenty-nine to thirty-five days. Pupation occurs in a cocoon partially excavated in soft dead wood or bark, usually in contact with soil or hummus. This is an nocturnal species, adults are usually taken at lights before midnight.
Population trend and potential threats: Although the population size is unknown, it appears relatively stable, however NatureServe (2011) notes that numbers have declined. It is possible that Gypsy Moth outbreaks could have a negative impact on this species if the larvae cannot develop on refoliated oaks. The main threat from Gypsy Moth outbreaks is from the pesticide residue remaining on affected oaks.
Management practices: The habitats for this moth require occasional fires often in a frequency of two to five per century; however, it is unknown where cocoons are formed so there remains uncertainty of how light ground fires would affect mortality to pupae.
References: Moth Photographers Group at eh Mississippi Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University. Web application at: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/large_map.php?hodges=9216 Accessed: 08Apr2013
NatureServe. 2011. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. (Accessed: 18Apr2012).
Schweitzer, D. F., M. C. Minno, and D. L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, Declining and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States. USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, WV, FHTET-2011-01. 517 pp.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, 600 E. Main St., 24th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219
This atlas was compiled
by the VA Natural Heritage Program with funds provided by the VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries through a state wildlife grant
from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Last Modified: Tuesday, 24 January 2017, 10:12:03 PM