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.