April 20, 2018

Climbing Cutworms

Suzanne Wold-Burkness, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota

Dingy Cutworm (Dept. of Entomology, U of MN)

Dingy Cutworm (Dept. of Entomology, U of MN)

Cutworms are the larvae of several species of night-flying moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). The larvae are called cutworms because of their feeding behavior, in which they cut down young plants as they feed. There are also species of climbing cutworms that climb plants and feed upon foliage, buds and shoots. The adults are night-flying moths and do not cause damage. As general feeders, most cutworms attack a wide range of plants.

The dingy cutworm, Feltia ducens, and variegated cutworm, Peridroma saucia, are climbing cutworms found in Minnesota. The dingy cutworm larva, Feltia ducens, is pale gray to brown, and tinged with red. A faint, dark V-shaped marking appears on the back of each abdominal segment. The head is pale brown-gray. The most distinguishing characteristic of the variegated cutworm larva, Peridroma saucia, is the 4 to 7 pale yellow, circular spots on the back of the larva. The body color is grey to brown with an orange lateral stripe and a series of darker lateral markings.

Damage to grape buds occurs most often in vineyards planted in sandy soil and areas of vineyards where there is excessive weed growth under vines. The most important means of controlling cutworms is to manage weeds and plant residue.


Cranshaw, W.S. Garden Insects of North America. 2004. Princeton University Press. pp. 672.

New York State IPM Program. 1984. Cornell University fact sheet. http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/factsheets/grapes/pests/cc/cc.asp

Hahn, J. and S. Wold-Burkness. 2008. Cutworms in Home Gardens. U of MN Extension publication M1225.


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