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  Cutworms
   
  Lepidoptera: Noctuidae
   
  Pulse Crops: Pea, lentil, chickpea
  Description: There are several species of cutworms that cause problems to agricultural crops in the northern Great Plains, such as dingy cutworm, red-backed cutworm, and pale western cutworm. Adult cutworms are a moth, and have dark wing colors (brown to gray) with markings, and about 1 1/2 inch long wing length. A mature cutworm larva is about 1 1/2inches long and the size of a pencil in width.
   
  Life cycle: Cutworms have one generation per year. They overwinter as eggs or young larvae depending on the species. Eggs hatch in April or early May, and young larvae (or caterpillars) feed at night on weeds and volunteer plants before the pulse crop emerges. Larvae molt six times and grow larger with each instar. Cutworms are most noticeable in crops from late May through late June. After cutworms complete their development in late June, they burrow deeper into the soil and make a small pupal chamber. Adult moths emerge from August through early September. Adults mate, and females lay eggs on or just below the surface of loose, dry soil, or weedy stubble, or fallow fields depending on the species.
  Damage: Cutworm damage first appears on hilltops, south facing slopes, or in areas of light soil, which warm up earlier in the spring. Larvae will cut young plants in the seedling to 6-8 leaf stages. Cut plants can be found drying up and lying on the soil surface. As damage continues, fields will have areas of bare soil where plants have disappeared. In a severe infestation, the entire field can be destroyed.
   
  Pest Management: Scout fields by looking for freshly damaged (cut off) plants. Dig down three or more inches around the cut-off plant and search for cutworm larvae. When disturbed, cutworms curl up or hide under soil debris. Pulse crops are more susceptible to cutworm damage than small grains, because cut plants do not grow back (grains compensate by tillering). Two to three cutworms per square yard justifies an insecticide treatment. Cutworm larvae are actively feeding at night, so an evening insecticide application is best. As a cultural control technique, weed-free fields and crusted summer fallow fields are less attractive to egg laying adults in late summer.
       
    Dingy cutworm adult Dingy cutworm larva
   
       
    Redbacked cutworm adult Redbacked cutworm larvae
   

 

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