Acronicta modica – Hesitant Dagger

Family Noctuidae    Hodges # 9244

Caterpillar foods: red and white oak (Bugguide)

Name has changed from Acronicta haesitata to Acronicta modica.

Owlet Caterpillars of North America has a section about ‘Oak Daggers’ (p. 276).  Caterpillars of this group of daggers are very varied and possibly indistinguishable.  They include A. albarufa, A. exilis, A. haesitata, A. increta, A. modica, A. ovata, A. tristis in this group.   For a long time I wasn’t sure about even the ID of the adult.  Thanks to Hugh McGuinness for helping confirm the adult ID.

I found this caterpillar eating oak – one of the black oaks – Red, Black or Hill’s Oak.  (I didn’t record the species and I can’t quite tell from the photos.)

8/4/2009  with lacy leaf damage


8/4/2009  with oak leaf












9/27/2009  burrowed in wood – hole covered with wood bits


I kept it in the frig for the winter, and the adult emerged on 6/6/2010

Acronicta haesitata 6-6-10 2



Acronicta haesitata 6-6-10 1

on Bugguide


I reared another caterpillar, also from oak, that I think is the same species.  Here’s the link to that life cycle.