Spotted cutworm (Xestia c-nigrum)
Variegated cutworm (Peridroma saucia)
Pest description and crop damage Several species of cutworm attack tree fruits. The adults are large moths that range in color from gray to brown and have characteristic spots on their wings. These moths are attracted to lights. Larvae are dirty white, reddish, gray or black caterpillars up to two inches long. The larvae of these moths feed on buds and leaves, chewing holes in buds and ragged holes out of leaves. They also feed on the growing tips, particularly on small trees or in high density plantings. On larger trees, most of the feeding is on the lower branches, and may be concentrated to a few stems or limbs, while other limbs are undamaged.
Biology and life history Weeds are the preferred source of food for these larvae, and eggs typically are laid on weeds in the orchard ground cover. Depending on species, they may overwinter as pupae or larvae in the soil. The larvae spend the day hidden in the soil. At night, the larvae climb up the tree to feed on buds or leaves, often following the same path as previous nights.
Control weeds, grasses, and debris in the orchard that provide cover. Encourage natural enemies of cutworms like birds and spiders. If practical, seek out and handpick cutworm larvae at night using a flashlight to find them. Scratch the soil at the base of plants to find larvae in the daytime. Caterpillars are trapped by tying plastic wrap tightly around branches and trunk, then applying a sticky adhesive to the plastic wrap. Remove these wraps in the fall.
Management-chemical control: HOME USE
- azadirachtin (neem oil)-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use
- carbaryl-Highly toxic to bees.
- esfenvalerate-Highly toxic to bees.
- gamma-cyhalothrin-Highly toxic to bees.
- imidacloprid-Plum only. Highly toxic to bees. Soil drenches may have residual activity in woody plants lasting for 12 or more months. If short-term management is the goal, consider other approaches.
- insecticidal soap-May require several applications. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- kaolin-Applied as a spray to leaves, stems, and fruit, it acts as a repellant to some insect pests. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- lambda-cyhalothrin-Highly toxic to bees.
- pyrethrins-Highly toxic to bees. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- spinosad-Toxic to bees. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- zeta-cypermethrin-Highly toxic to bees.
Management-chemical control: COMMERCIAL USE
No products are registered for control of this pest.