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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Variegated Cutworm

Variegated cutworm with feeding Variegated cutworm larvae and pupa Variegated cutworm feeding damage
Click to enlarge.

Beginner

Scientific Name
Peridroma saucia

Identification
Variegated cutworms body color varies from gray to brown. Larvae are soft and fat, and roll up when disturbed. The variegated cutworm appears later in the season and is larger than the other cutworm species.

Along the back and sides of the body there are longitudinal stripes and diamond-shaped, pale yellow markings.

Often Confused With
Black cutworm

Period of Activity
Since there are two generations of these cutworms during the season, damage may occur when the plants are small and again in late July and August.

Scouting Notes
Like other cutworms, variegated cutworms are nocturnal and feeding takes place at night or on very cloudy days. Feeding damage causes large irregular holes.

Thresholds
No thresholds are established.

Advanced

Scientific Name
Peridroma saucia

Identification
Variegated cutworms body color varies from gray to brown. Larvae are soft and fat, and roll up when disturbed. The variegated cutworm appears later in the season and is larger than the other cutworm species.

Along the back and sides of the body there are longitudinal stripes and diamond-shaped, pale yellow markings.

Often Confused With
Black cutworm

Biology
Although VCW can survive the winter in our growing area, a large proportion of the variegated cutworm population is thought to migrate into Ontario each season.  Cutworms have one to four generations per year depending upon the species and location.

This cutworm is referred to as a "climbing" cutworm because of its habit of climbing plants at night to feed on foliage, buds and flowers. Brown-black droppings are usually found on the soil surface underneath plants damaged by climbing cutworms.

Variegated cutworms large enough to cause noticeable damage are usually at least 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. They ultimately grow to be 1 1/2 inch. Like other cutworms, variegated cutworms are nocturnal and feeding takes place at night or on very cloudy days, meaning few people have seen the cutworms though many are familiar with the large irregular holes noticed later.

Variegated cutworms do not damage stems by clipping them at ground level as is typical of many other cutworm species.

Variegated cutworms large enough to cause noticeable damage are at least 1 cm to 2 cm to long.

Period of Activity
Since there are two generations of these cutworms during the season, damage may occur when the plants are small and again in late July and August.

Scouting Notes
Like other cutworms, variegated cutworms are nocturnal and feeding takes place at night or on very cloudy days. Feeding damage causes large irregular holes.

Thresholds
No thresholds are established.

Management Notes
Chemical control might be required.