Smeared Dagger!

The Smartweed Caterpillar is also known after its adult moth form, the Smeared Dagger (Acronicta oblinita). According to Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America, these are quite variable.Here’s another, missing the red highlights. Excellent opportunity to see the morphology here: the three pairs of thoracic legs (with simple claws) on the left, the four pairs of anterior prolegs, and the pair of anal prolegs (all with hooks and hair-like setae). Tuffs of setae are found in many of the 75 North American species in this genus (!).

Wagner’s book is filled with amazing images of caterpillars, most of which I’ve never seen. For instance, this is the first time I’ve run into this spectacular species. (Inexhaustible nature!) There were three of them visible on Friday. The adult moth is quite plain in comparison.

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