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Climbing cutworm

Euxoa messoria (Harris)
Abagrotis alternate (Grote)
Feltia jaculifera (Guenée)
Abagrotis alternate (Grote)
Xestia c-nigrum (L.)
Peridroma saucia (Hübner)
Spaelotis clandestine (Harris)

Lepidoptera: Noctuidae

Climbing cutworms are large, smooth caterpillars measuring 30 to 40 mm when fully grown. The head capsule is usually dark and the body is dull gray-brown, marked with dots or stripes, and curled when disturbed. The larvae overwinter in the soil of the vineyard floor and become active in spring when vine buds begin to expand. Larvae feed on young buds at night, hiding in the soil beneath the vines during the day. Cutworms are mainly a pest in areas with sandy soils and in vineyards with weeds under the vines.


Feeding may injure buds or remove them entirely. Injury is often worse in years when cool temperatures slow bud development. Vineyards with a history of cutworm damage should be scouted regularly during bud expansion, particularly after warmer nights. Once shoot expansion begins, the risk of damage declines.

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.