Cutworm larvae have four sets of abdominal prolegs and curl up when disturbed. Red-backed cutworms are dull-gray to brown in colour and have a pink, red or reddish-brown top-stripe that extends the entire length of the body. The top-stripe is divided by a dark line and bordered by darker bands. The head is yellowish-brown. Army cutworms are pale greenish-gray to brown in colour. They have pale stripes down the back and a mottled pattern. They also have a lighter band along the sides.
Cutworm moths may lay several hundred eggs on their host plants. After the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the host plants. They moult several times, eventually reaching about 5 cm (2 in.) in length. The larvae tunnel into the soil to form earthen cells where they pupate. The new moths emerge, exiting through the soil using the old larval tunnels. Some species overwinter as eggs (eg, the red-backed cutworm); others, as larvae or pupae.