The species Agrotis ipsilon is commonly known as the black cutworm. This species causes significant crop losses to a variety of plant species, particularly in the short period after sowing or transplanting. The species is often a pest of corn. If an infestation occurs during the seedling stage then the whole stand can fail as a result of the cutworm cutting off the lower shoot, preventing the supply of nutrients and water; ultimately, leading to the death of the young plants.
The adult black cutworm is brownish-grey in colour with the wings displaying dagger-like markings. The larvae are a dirty-grey colour with a distinct brown head. The black cutworm can cause damage to a significant amount of vegetable crops; however, the most serious damage often occurs in corn and other field crops. The favourable alternate hosts for Black cutworm are such weeds as lambs quarters, redroot pigweed and bluegrass; therefore, it is important to control these weeds as they will increase the likelihood of infestation by black cutworm.
When larvae average less than ¾ inch in length and 2 or 3 percent of the plants are wilted or cut, an insecticide should be considered. If cutworms remain active and 5 percent of the plants are cut, a treatment should be applied immediately. Seed Treatment represents an excellent alternative of control, since it is cost-effective, efficient and highly compatible with the Integrated Pest Management measures intended for the crop.