Heart and Dart moth, Agrotis exclamationis

Agrotis exclamationis, known as the heart and dart moth, affects a great number of staple European vegetables.

As a major pest of outdoors environments, the heart and dart moth, Agrotis exclamationis, can damage both solanaceaeous crops, root vegetables, as well as maize and cereal crops. It is common throughout Eastern and Central Europe, destroying the livelihood and sustenance of growers and consumers alike.


The Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) moth belongs to the family Noctuidae. It is the most common moth in Europe, spreading to Asia and Japan. The moth is easy to recognize, with forewings ranging from pale to dark brown with the distinctively shaped dark spots. The Heart and Dart moth flies at night from May to July and is attracted to light, sometimes in large numbers.

The larva is brown above and grey below and feeds on a variety of plants, both wild and cultivated. The species overwinters as a full-grown larva in a chamber in the soil before pupating in the spring.

Nature of Damage

Known as a cutworm, the Heart and Dart moth larvae often sever or fatally damage plants at the base.  They are common agriculture and garden pests. They are voracious leaf, bud, and stem feeders and can destroy entire plants. More over, they hosts for numerous parasitoid wasps and flies.


Installation of yellow or blue sticky traps such as Actiroll or Optiroll Super plus sticky roller traps, infused with pheromone, or the  Impact Yellow boards from Russell IPM can provide a simple and effective monitoring system targeting Heart and Dart moths in the open field.

Application Guidelines

The best way to track the presence of the Heart and Dart moth is via a Mothcatcher trap equipped with the insect’s pheromone. Trapping as many moths as possible will curtail an infestation and prevent damage, as fewer moths will mate and produce the detrimental cutworm larvae.

Trap Selection

Actiroll sticky roller trap or Impact Board Yellow sticky traps are the most sensitive trap to use for monitoring the Heart and Dart moths. The traps can be used in conjunction with pheromone lures applied with Russell IPM’s Mothcatcher traps, to increase catch rate and enhance specificity.

Trap Density

For Optiroll sticky roller traps, position the roll above the crop or place parallel with the crop rows, taking care to avoid contact between the roll and plant canopy.

For Impact Boards, hang traps at regular intervals amongst the crop rows, taking care to avoid contact between the trap and plant canopy. For heavy infestations place 1 board every 10 m2. For monitoring, place 1 board in every ~250 m2.

Trap Position

Insert pheromone lure in the plastic cage provided with the trap. Suspend the Mothcatcher trap trap near to the highest point of the plant, avoiding contact with plant canopy.

Data and Interpretation

Collect data weekly from the start of the flight of the over wintering generation. During the height of the population more frequent reading may be needed. Decisions on pesticide application should not be taken solely on the trap catch data. Climatic and biological considerations should be taken in account.

Inhibitors of Sexual Attraction in the Moth Agrotis Exclamationis

The sex-attractant system of the dart moth Agrotis exclamationis (L.) (Noctuidae) was re-investigated with electrophysiological and field trapping tests. The identified pheromone components (Z)-5-tetradecenyl acetate and (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate elicited maximum trap captures when combined in a Z5-/Z9-mixture ratio of between 100/10 and 100/20, in contrast to an earlier reported mixture optimum of 100/5. Each compound activated a particular type of receptor cell located in the male antennal hair sensilla. Three further cell types discovered in these sensilla Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate and (Z)-7- and (Z)-l1-tetradecenyl acetate. These latter compounds did not show attractive or synergistic properties in field trapping tests but rather reduced captures when added to the binary pheromone blend as a third component. The biological functions of these three “attraction-inhibitors™ remain unidentified.

Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290046073_Inhibitors_of_Sexual_Attraction_in_the_Moth_Agrotis_Exclamationis [accessed Jul 3, 2017].

The Effectiveness of Catching Cutwom (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Noctuinae) (= Agrotinae) in Pheremone Traps And Light Traps, for Short-Term Forecasting

In agricultural plant protection, signaling that there is
a pest to crops has been rarely used, except in respect of
a few phytophage species (Walczak et al. 2010). In order
to determine the optimal time for controlling agrophages,
first the appropriate monitoring of the agrophages must
be conducted (Walczak 1999). Such monitoring involves
systematic observation to determine the severity of the
disease or the stage of development and the population
size of the pests. If the threshold of economic harmfulness
is exceeded, the decision must be made about whether
or not to start chemical treatment (Walczak 2007, 2008).

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