New York Natural Heritage Program
Switchgrass Dart
Dichagyris acclivis (Morrison, 1875)
Insects

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Like many other noctuids (owlet moths), this is a small, brown moth. The forewing is patterned with several shades of brown, and the hind wing is mostly white. The wingspan is approximately 32 mm. Larvae are hardy and smooth (Wagner et al. 2008).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
The adult is the best life stage for identification.

Behavior [-]
Adults fly from mid July to early August. The females lay one brood of eggs each year. Larvae emerge from the eggs and become mature caterpillars in September and early October. The larvae burrow underground during the day, where they are safe from predators. They emerge at night to feed on the developing seeds of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) (Wagner et al. 2008), usually in wet areas such as ditches and streamsides (D. Schweitzer, personal communication). Larvae spend the winter underground as prepupae, and pupation occurs in a cell underground. Prepupal larvae of some closely related species (and perhaps this species) aestivate underground for three or four months during the summer before emerging as adult moths (Wagner et al. 2008).

Diet [-]
Larvae feed on the developing seeds of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) (Wagner et al. 2008). It is possible that they also use other grasses (D. Schweitzer, personal communication).
Switchgrass Dart Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
The best time to see this species is during its flight season, from mid July to early August.
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Reproducing Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Switchgrass Dart present (blue shading), reproducing (green shading) and larvae present and active (orange shading) in New York.