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Cutworm - Garden Insect Library - Saferbrand

Cutworms

Found throughout North America, these destructive eating machines may not be easy to see in your garden or fields since they tend to remain hidden under debris, preferring to come out at night to feed.

 

Holes in leaves and fallen plantings are prime symptoms of cutworm activity.  Some cutworms of the climbing variety will leave holes in tree and vine fruits and buds as well.

 

 

 

 

So... What are Cutworms?

Cutworms are the laval or caterpillar stage of certain moths. There are numerous species of cutworms, each affecting certain parts of plants in specific ways.

 

Cutworms can vary in color from brown to gray to black as well as green and pink.  Some species may have more than one color and some may have stripes or spots. Cutworm caterpillar or larvae are generally 1"-2" in length. When they emerge as adults, they will be gray or brown in color with dark or light markings on their wings.

 

 

 

 

Reproduction Patterns of Cutworms

Cutworms may spend the winter as pupae or they may overwinter in a partly grown larval state. If they are partly grown larvae, they will be particularly destructive when they emerge since they are hungry and ready to eat when the garden or field crops are being planted.

 

CutwormIn certain species, adults emerge in the spring and lay eggs in the soil or grass. Within a week, these eggs will hatch and the larvae will feed on the nearby plantings. After several weeks, the larvae will penetrate the soil and pupate.  They will emerge as adults by late summer.

 

In other species, eggs are able to survive the winter and hatch in the spring, where the emerging larvae will feast on early plantings and seedlings, and then go through pupation and emerge as adults. In all of these species, there is usually only one generation of cutworms produced in a year.

 

 

 

 

Cutworm's Habitat

Found throughout North America, these destructive eating machines may not be easy to see in your garden or fields since they tend to remain hidden under debris, preferring to come out at night to feed.

 

Whether as eggs or in a larval or pupal stage, the cutworm almost always hides under old crop debris, trash, grass clumps or any other form of protection it finds suitable.

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of Oklahoma State University and Forestry Images.
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