Black Cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon

The Black cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon attacks the seedlings of most horticultural crops.

It has wide host range such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, Chinese spinach, corn, egg plant, flowering white cabbage, green beans, head cabbage, lettuce, mustard cabbage, potato, spinach, sugarcane, sweet potato, tomato, turnip, as well as many other plants.

It is widely distributed throughout Europe, North America, South America and Mediterranean region.

Russell IPM manufactures and supplies pheromone lures, traps and complete monitoring systems for the Black cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon. Pheromone trap data gives early warning of the infestation and also exhibits the density of the insect population.


The life cycle from egg to adult is completed in 32-67 days. The duration is primarily governed by temperature. In temperate regions, the larvae over winter and pupate in the late spring., there are many generations per year. Have a wingspan of 1-5/8 to 2 inches. Forewings are grey with dark brownish or black markings. Hind wings are almost white except for a dark fringe at the tips and are folded under the forewing when the adult is inactive. The body is grey.

Nature of Damage

Black cutworms are among the most destructive of all cutworms. The larvae sever plants from roots near the soil line; usually no other feeding damage is present.

Many larvae move from plant to plant on successive nights, while some stay to feed on the roots and underground stems of cut plants.

Black cutworms attack the transplants and seedlings of tomato, corn, bean, and other vegetables and flowers.

Young larvae eat the leaves during the night. Older caterpillars cut through the stem about 1/2″ above ground and then eat the plant during the night.

Lures for pest monitoring

Lures can be changed every 4-6 weeks to get the most accurate results.

Lures Handling
Pheromone lures are a very sensitive tool. They can be affected by exposure to elevated heat and direct sunshine. Direct touching by hand may cause cross contamination leading to mixed catches in the trap. Some contaminants such as Nicotine may have repellent effect reducing trap catch.

Lure Storage

Store in a cool dry place. Shelf life can vary from 3-36 months depending on the storage temperature.

Trap Selection

The Delta trap is the most sensitive trap to use for monitoring this insect. However, the Mothcatcher trap may be used in dusty conditions or in high moth population density.

Do not re-use the trap to monitor different insects as this may lead to mixed catches.

Trap Density

Two traps per hectare (2trap/ha) for small holdings and in field of uneven topography.

One trap for every two hectares of large scale fields of homogenous lands.

Trap Position

Place trap near the highest point of the plant using supporting posts approximately 1 meter high, or higher if the crop is higher.

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.

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