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American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana)


These caterpillars may appear cute and fuzzy, but they are toxic. When a person comes into contact with the hairs of an American Dagger Moth, the hairs break off of the caterpillar and embed into the skin of the person. These hairs are connected to glands just below the surface of the caterpillar's skin which produce toxins known to cause a variety of skin irritations.


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Most of my photos are closer up than this, but I was intrigued by getting the caterpillar on the leaf and its exuvia (cast skin) at the bottom right in the same picture.

Seen in my garden this morning. I believe that this is an Acronicta americana – American Dagger Moth Caterpillar.

Acronicta americana – American Dagger

Suffolk County, NY

I found this American daggermoth caterpillar, Acronicta americana, Hodges #9200, on a branch of one of my lavender plants when I pulled up the just-about-dead plant. It was ID’d by helpful people in Facebook’s Insect Identification and BugGuide pages.



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American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana) caterpillar. Environmental Area, Howard County, Maryland.

I almost ran over him with my bike. Crossing the sidewalk can be pretty dangerous if you're half an inch tall. Taken on August 6th, as of today (Aug. 22) He should look like this now:

My Grandson found this fuzzy yellow caterpillar while exploring in the backyard. We researched and found it to be a American Dagger Moth caterpillar. Found in Timmins Ontario Canada.


The young caterpillar is densely covered with yellow setae. The older caterpillar's setae are either pale yellow or white. All instars have thin black setae on the first and third abdominal segments. On the eighth abdominal segment there is one tuft of black setae. The caterpillar will reach a length 50 mm (2 inches). Caution should be taken in handling the caterpillar as the hollow setae may break off in to human skin releasing a toxin which can produce a rash.

Dans la grande catégorie des chenilles à poils, l'Acronycte d'Amérique, grande brouteuse de feuilles de bouleaux et d'érables. Quelle beauté quand même !

I've started to see American Dagger Caterpillars everywhere. They are one of the more common species and can be quite a variety of colors.

I put the Caterpillar on this mushroom that was near by for more drama ;-)

Caterpillar for sure! Yellow spiked caterpillar (Acronicta Americana)turns into a Dagger Moth


This guy was crawling on Mom's house. He had something that looked like dryer lint on his head. I got some of it off, but I know these types of caterpillars sometimes have stinging hairs and I treated it with great it still has some fuzz on it's head! Hope you enjoy the picture!


Actual Size was about 3 inches long.


Appears to be an American Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta americana).


Location: Cape Girardeau MO USA

It was in my mom's car port, so no help with food plant.

American Dagger caterpillar (Acronicta americana) & Unknown Tussock Moth coccon on Red Bud. Sugarloaf Mountain Park, Frederick County, Maryland.

American Dagger. Photographed in Toronto, Ontario on 10 June 2018.

After trying unsuccessfully to allow this little guy to crawl up onto my fingers, so I could transport him to a place where he wouldn't get stepped on, I used paper. That worked.


Which, as it turned out, is probably a good thing. I later learned that the black bristles will sting upon contact with skin.



Daggers are Difficult to ID, but I took a Stab at a few recently ...

I've seen & photographed the caterpillar to this one. First adult I've had. Posted on BAMONA and BugGuide:


May 11, 2015

Columbia, MO

American Dagger. Photographed in Toronto, Ontario on 7 June 2014.

American Dagger Moth

(Acronicta americana : Noctuidae)

ID'd using Seems distinctive.

Kohl's Ranch, Gila Co., Arizona, 5320 ft. elev.

Found wandering on ground 13 Sep 2016.

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This is a picture of a caterpillar at mistletoe bog on the North Tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland.

Laurel Quad

Chenille de l'Acronycte d'Amérique (Acronicta americana). Parc des Prairies, Laval-des-Rapides. 18 août 2015

Acronicta americana


5 August 2018


© Bruce Bolin K1__2798ce

I believe it is an older American dagger moth (Acronicta americana) caterpillar. The caterpillars of this species change from yellow to white setae as they age. Close inspection reveals some yellow at the ends of the setae. The caterpillar is on a Horsehair below Highgate falls on the Missisquoi River,


Photographed using a Nikkor 85mm f/2.8 tilt shift lens on a Sony A7R with a Sony flash.


An adult American Dagger Moth, Acronicta americana, at our porch light in Colorado Springs, Colorado. July 3, 2018.

Chenille de l'Acronycte d'Amérique (Acronicta americana). Parc des Prairies, Laval-des-Rapides. 18 août 2015

I walked through a bunch of shurbs. When I came out the back of my neck was itchy. I kept pawing at it and eventually I came up with this. It scared the crap out of me as I kept itching, like there was some kind of abrasive powder rubbed on me. All I could think of was my time in Guatemala where the caterpillars contain a venomous bite.


Later that night I was to find out that I didn't just have a caterpillar on my neck, but I also came upon a nest of seed ticks -- the really tiny ones. I picked dozens off me. I kind of miss Alaska and its lack of ticks.

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