Caterpillars in Your Yard and Garden
Cutworms, armyworms, underwings and dagger moths
Variegated cutworm caterpillars (Peridroma saucia) are present from late spring to early summer. They produce two to four generations per year.
Full-grown caterpillars are robust-looking and range in length from 1.5 to 2 inches. Body color, from the top and down to the spiracles on the sides, is a mottled brown-gray to gray-black. On top of each of the first four abdominal segments is a conspicuous yellow spot. The top of the last abdominal segment is tan with a less distinct black “W” mark. Below the black spiracles is an orange-brown line followed by a light-tan ventral side. Host plants include a wide range of vegetable, field, fruit and flower crops and weeds.
About the family
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.