American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana)

Order: Lepidoptera (le-pid-OP-ter-a) (Info)
Family: Noctuidae (nok-TOO-ih-dee) (Info)
Genus: Acronicta
Species: americana (a-mer-ih-KAY-na) (Info)


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

West Granby, Connecticut
Dahlonega, Georgia
Cary, Illinois
Cherry Valley, Illinois
Cicero, Illinois
Riverside, Illinois
Yale, Iowa
Millersville, Maryland
Abington, Massachusetts
North Billerica, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Roseville, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Lake City, Minnesota
Osseo, Minnesota
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Plattsmouth, Nebraska
Canterbury, New Hampshire
Brookside, New Jersey
Hillsborough, New Jersey
Buffalo, New York
Fairport, New York
Barberton, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Zanesville, Ohio
Albion, Pennsylvania
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Leesburg, Virginia
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Aug 25, 2017, esaltz from Chicago, IL wrote:


Like another user mentioned, this caterpillar caused a large and mildly itchy rash on my 6 year old bug-loving son. The rash did not appear immediately, but was red and almost measle-like throughout his trunk, thighs and arms. No fever in our situation. We were advised by a medical professional to take Benedryl / anti-histamines. Within 2-3 days, the itching had stopped and the redness of the bumps were gone (bumps still present, but no longer looked irritated).

It took us a few days to figure out what could have caused the rash, but after searching for causes of rashes on the CDC website I saw a page that documented different reactions to caterpillars. That was just the clue we needed to determine the source of the al... read more


On Apr 23, 2013, Missiospes from Royal Oak, MI wrote:

WARNING: MAY CAUSE EXTREME ALLERGIC REACTION. While I have only seen a dagger moth a few times, every time I have had a violent allergic reaction. I was the type of kid who played with bugs, I'll be honest, I am the kind of adult who plays with bugs. Caterpillars bring me joy. These caterpillars are very beautiful. I have touched it about 3 times, all as a young child. The nest day I wake up with quarter sized itchy welts all over my body and fever that last for a few days. The welts lasted more than two weeks. The first time I was with my grandmother and the second time I was with a babysitter. It took for my mom to actually see the caterpillar for her to figure out what was causing this strange illness. Because the reaction didn't present until the next day it was hard to put it toge... read more


On Sep 28, 2008, ThomasGary from West Granby, CT wrote:

My son, Thomas, found the Dagger Moth in our yard Sept 26th 2008. Thomas was very careful handling and setting it free where it was first found.


On Sep 2, 2007, JeanieLR from Dahlonega, GA wrote:

This caterpiller was discovered on my new autumn flame maple. I purchased the tree this week at the local nursery, planted it, mulched it, and of course basked in the beauty of the tree. This morning I discovered and removed the caterpiller, only one on it, and put it in a jar with some more maple leaves. Tomorrow I will return it to the wild, but not the maple in my front yard. Who knows, maybe it will be a moth, but then again it may be dinner for a bird. I've enjoyed reading about it and learning.


On Jan 21, 2007, DiOhio from Corning, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The larvae to this moth can have white to yellowish setae of variable length.

Host plants include many trees such as alders, ashes, birches, elms, hickories, maples, oaks, poplars, walnuts, and willows.

Two generations in the south, one in the north.