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Dark Dagger
Acronicta tridens ([Denis & Schifferm?ller], 1775)
Noctuidae: Acronictinae
2283 / 73.037
Photo © Charles Fletcher, 2 Jul 2012,  SE323733:Hutton Conyers, VC65 - (gen. det.)

Similar Yorkshire Species
Grey Dagger
Acronicta psi
Forewing: 17-20mm
Flight: May - July (September - October)
Foodplant:   Broadleaved trees and shrubs
Red List: Least Concern (LC)
GB Status: Common
Verification Grade:  Adult: 4

Yorkshire Status: Rare and local resident.

Sutton & Beaumont, 1989: Only distinguishable from A. psi (Linnaeus) by the genitalia or as a larva, this species is probably much under-recorded as a result. Recently there are a few probable or actually confirmed records and in at least one area of the County it seems more common than A. psi.

VC61. Spurn, said to be resident and confirmed by genitalia (Sutton & Spence, 1974a), however all recently checked specimens have proved to be psi (BRS); Muston, larvae usually quite common, usually on blackthorn but also once on dog rose, imagines probably common at light and seems more regular and numerous than A. psi (PQW); Rudston, larval records in 1980 and 1982 (ASE).

VC62. Wass, common (AMRH); Wilton, bred from female moths taken at rest, 1977 and 1980 (NWH); Lowna Mill, 1986 (JP).

VC63. Sheffield, 'recent' records from Whirlow and Eccleshall Wood (Garland, 1979); Potteric Carr, larvae 1973 (RIH; Jackson, 1976); Hatfield Lings, on birch, 9.9.1973 (PS); Whitgift, singles 16.6 and 11.7.1976 (RIS trap 330, AG); West Melton, annual; Denaby Ings, occasional but much less common than psi (HEB); Thorne Moors, 1978 (Skidmore et al., 1985); Fishlake, on hawthorn, September 1985 (PS); Emley, 1986, larvae more common than those of psi (NG).

VC64. Knaresborough, 1.7.1970 (JRM; Jackson, 1972); Ilkley, one male 3.7.1986 (WNS); Brayton near Selby, larva October 1986 (NG, SMJ); Burley-in-Wharfedale, one male 1987 (WNS).

2012 (CHF): Every year we receive many records of Dark or Grey Dagger without any confirmatory evidence that the genitalia have been checked. The two of course are not separable by forewing characteristics and must be dissected for a positive identification. This is one of the easiest pair of moths to distinguish in this way. The larvae are very different. It is difficult to comment on the distribution of the two within the county but both appear to be widespread in all five vice-counties. Grey Dagger is however much commoner on the higher ground.

Determination by Genitalia Examination (gen. det.) Required

Recorded in 56 (28%) of 200 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1883.
Last Recorded in 2023.

Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
06/09/2023161TA03 - Beverley (S) / Cottingham
10/07/2023165SE28 - Bedale
28/06/2023162SE65 - York (E)
26/06/2023164SE26 - Ripley / Summerbridge
19/06/2023164SE24 - Bramhope / Otley
Further info: Acronicta tridens
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