Species Account

Select species and region:



Summary Data

Season (Adult / Immature):

National Status: Common

Local Status: Rare and local resident.

Local Record: Grade G   See here for explanation

Flight time: One generation, May-Jul, (Sep-Oct).

Forewing: 17-20mm.

Foodplant: Broadleaved trees and shrubs.

Regional breakdown:

Year first recorded18831883188318832001
Year last recorded20142014201320112014
Number of records381420208
Number of individuals337101710
Unique positions201218184
Unique locations201218164
Adult records301215147
Immature records82561

For the county, we have a total of 100 records from 70 sites. First recorded in 1883.


73.037 Dark Dagger 04
© Margaret Moseley, Paul Holmes
73.037 Dark Dagger 03
© Paul Holmes/Margaret Moseley
73.037 Dark Dagger 02 (gen. det.)
© Charles Fletcher, 2 Jul 2012
73.037 Dark Dagger 01 gen.det.
© John Edwards

Species Account

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.

See background to species accounts.  Index of Vernacular names - Search - Random Species