Stalk borer

Cutworms, armyworms, underwings and dagger moths

Link to Caterpillars in Your Yard and Garden Stalk borer caterpillars (Papaipema nebris) are present from May to August. They produce one generation per year.

As the name implies, these caterpillars feed within stems of their host plants and cause the infested area to wilt and become discolored. The caterpillars are not readily visible unless without dissection of an infested plant. Full-grown caterpillars are a little over 1 inch in length. The head is yellow and the body is brown with white longitudinal stripes on the top and sides. However, there is a large brown spot on the first four abdominal segments that encircles the entire body and interrupts the white stripes. The body is relatively smooth. Host plants include more than 200 field, vegetable, flower and fruit crops and several species of 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.