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.