Cutworms

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Changed on: 21.05.2019
Erdraupen
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Erdraupen

The cutworm is the common name for the caterpillars of several species of owlet moths (Noctuidae) that  live in the soil and are agricultural and horticultural pests: Agrotis segetum, the turnip moth, and Agrotis ipsilon, the dark-sword grass moth, have been known to exist since ancient times, in addition to members of the species Scotia, Euxoa and Noctua.
What these species have in common is the life patterns of their larvae: these larvae feed off their host plants during the night and hide in the surrounding soil during the day. The most important pest, the turnip moth, will be discussed in the following paragraphs as a representative example:

More information
Erdraupen
caption
Erdraupen

The cutworm is the common name for the caterpillars of several species of owlet moths (Noctuidae) that  live in the soil and are agricultural and horticultural pests: Agrotis segetum, the turnip moth, and Agrotis ipsilon, the dark-sword grass moth, have been known to exist since ancient times, in addition to members of the species Scotia, Euxoa and Noctua.
What these species have in common is the life patterns of their larvae: these larvae feed off their host plants during the night and hide in the surrounding soil during the day. The most important pest, the turnip moth, will be discussed in the following paragraphs as a representative example:

More information

Symptoms

Symptoms

The caterpillars feed off the roots, rhizomes, stalks and foliage of various cultivated plants. Young plants chewed off just above ground level are a typical symptom of cutworms. The remaining plant lies on the ground next to the stump, as if cut in two.

Root vegetables often show dented feeding marks. The caterpillars feed during the night and hide in the ground during the day – often right next to the crop they damage.

Occurrence and Hosts

While the turnip moth mainly holds what its name promises and appears in field and vegetable cultures that are seeded in late summer, the dark-sword grass moth infests mainly vegetable crops in early summer.

Affected plants are – in addition to a large number of flowering plants (asters, carnations, chrysanthemums,…) – mainly vegetable crops (lettuce, beans, peas, spinach, peppers, cabbage, black salsifies, celeriac, radishes, onions, asparagus) and field crops (potatoes, maize, winter crop, winter rape seed,…). The caterpillars of Noctua pronuba (large yellow underwing), on the other hand, chew on young vine buds in spring.

 

 

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Cutworm damage on scallions
Erdraupen-Schadbild an Jungzwiebeln
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Cutworm feeding marks on onions
Fraßspuren von Erdraupen an der Zwiebel
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Cutworm feeding marks on beetroot
Fraßspuren von Erdraupen an der roten Rübe
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Cutworm feeding marks on carrots
Fraßspuren von Erdraupen an Karotten
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Cutworm damage on maize
Erdraupen-Schadbild am Mais
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Dark-sword grass moth (Agrotis ipsilon)
Ypsiloneule (Agrotis ipsilon)
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Cutworm moth, resting
Erdraupen-Falter, sitzend
 

Control

Control

  • Natural predators are blackbirds, chickens, hedgehogs, toads, moles, ground beetles, moles, but also shrews, tachinidae and ichneumonid.
  • Chickens in a garden plot decimate cutworms – make sure that plant being cultivated and chickens can live next to one another. 
  • Artificial irrigation decimates young larvae.
  • The use of bacillus thringiensis (Subsp. aizawai) is only suitable for young larvae. However, infestation is often recognised late, once the larvae have grown too big. 
  • Applying insecticides (see Register of authorised plant protection products in Austria). These work best against young larvae. Insecticides should be applied in the evening, if possible.

Further Literature:

Landesforschungsanstalt Mecklenburg Vorpommern – Fachinformation (Federal Research Institute Mecklenburg – Vorpommern Professional information):
Bekämpfung von Erdraupen der Wintersaateule (Agrotis segetum) im Gemüsebau (Control of cutworms of the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum) in vegetable cultivation)


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