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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Grey Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta psi)

Every so often I come across a bug of some kind that captures my attention, either because of its appearance or behaviour; and I couldn't resist this spectacularly coloured caterpillar.

Problem is that on nearly every occasion I have to do a search to find out what it is. I've looked through a couple of books, one being the Collins Field Guide for Insects and the only caterpillar that comes close to this one is the Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi); but the colouring isn't right. The illustration shows white below the red spots and grey up to the yellow, whereas this specimen  is black; so if anyone can help I'd be greatfull.

When I do identify it properly I'll amend the post.

My thanks to the warden at Pensychnant Conservation Centre and Nature Reserve in North Wales who offered this information
It is a Grey Dagger caterpillar. It is not too surprising that it doesn’t concur exactly with the illustration in your book because caterpillars vary considerably between instars, making identification difficult.
Grey Dagger is a common moth but this is an uncommon record because Grey Dagger is virtually indistinguishable from Dark Dagger, so it is usually recorded as Grey Dagger agg. However the caterpillars are not alike so we can be certain that this is the Grey Dagger sensu stricto.

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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.