Common Name: Cutworm
Latin Name: Agrotis, Prodenia, and other species
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae
Main Host(s): Field and row crops, e.g. corn and other grain crops, vegetables, ornamentals and deciduous fruit trees.

Life Cycle

Source: Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

Cutworms are found mostly in the southern U.S., especially the Southeast, but have been seen north as far as Canada. They are not selective in regards to feeding preference, feeding on various row crops such as corn, or vegetable crops, ornamentals and deciduous fruits and vines.

Cutworms are grouped in three categories, i.e. the surface Cutworms that are eating holes in vegetable fruiting structures (tomatoes, beans, etc) or cutting plant seedlings, the climbing Cutworm (for example on grape), and the subterranean Cutworms feeding on plant roots. Cutworms feed mostly at night and larger larvae make shelters in the soil where they hide during the day.

DiPel DF to Control Turnip Moth Larvae

Depending on the species, cutworms overwinter as egg, larvae or pupae, in the latter case there usually is more than one generation per year. Variegated and black cutworms are examples. Still other species have one generation per year. For species that overwinter as pupae, in the spring — the farther south the earlier — the moth emerges from the soil to mate and lay eggs. Those species overwintering as larvae start feeding on young plants in the spring, cutting them off right at the soil line and giving this pest its name.

Impact & Damage

Damage caused by Cutworm species can be severe, such as damage to plant seedlings when a crop is being established. Feeding on vegetable fruiting structures will impact the harvestable crop, while the climbing Cutworm feeding on woody plants such as grapes cause economic damage during spring flush.

Recommended Control

DiPel-XenTari combo logo

Growers should begin scouting for Cutworms when plants are still quite small. Larvae are susceptible to both DiPel® and XenTari®, and both products are extremely effective on Cutworms. These products should be applied as a complete coverage starting when plants are small. While many growers prefer to wait until scouting shows damage, it is best to treat before damage occurs by monitoring the adult population.

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