IPM1019, New February 2003
Black cutworm caterpillars (Agrotis ipsilon) are present from late spring to fall. They produce one to three generations per year.
Full-grown caterpillars are robust-looking and nearly two inches long. The body is often uniformly colored light gray to brown to black, although sometimes there appears to be a light, indistinct longitudinal dorsal stripe. The ventral surface is light-colored. The body surface is virtually hairless, but there are numerous small, black tubercles. Host plants include a variety of vegetable and field crops (often a serious pest of corn and cotton), and some deciduous trees and shrubs, and several weeds and grasses. Heavy adult migration occurs in April and May.
Noctuidae is the largest family in the order Lepidoptera. The body of the caterpillars ranges from smooth with very little hair to clothed with short or long hairs; coloration varies from dull-colored to bright stripes or patches to cryptic. Although many species are found feeding on the foliage of forest or shade trees, they are not considered serious pests. However, several species are damaging to many field, vegetable and fruit crops.
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