Constraint - Cutworms


  • There are two species of cutworm that damage crops, Brown/pink cutworm, and common cutowrm (Bogong moth)

  • Cutworm larvae are generally plump, greasy in appearance, and smooth bodied

  • They have dark heads, dark/red-brown/pink bodies without distinct hairs and can grow up to 40-50 mm long

  • Moths vary in colour from dull brown to black with wingspans ranging from 30-50mm


  • Patchy damage, with seedlings most affected

  • Caterpillars found just under the soil surface

  • Plant stems nipped off or completely eaten


  • High density of cutworms can severely damage crops

  • In some rare cases crops can be completely wiped out

  • Resowing is often required


Monitoring for cutworm damage is crucial. Careful inspection of the soil around damaged plants may reveal larvae. If required, cutworms are easily controlled with registered insecticides such as organophosphates or pyrethroids. Spraying in the evening is likely to be most effective as larvae are emerging to feed and insecticide degradation is minimised.




Links and Resources

I Spy Manual - Cutworm

Page 52. Information on three specis of cutworm, common, brown/pink, and black cutworm. Description, confused with, distribution, pest status and risk period, host range, damage, monitoring/sampling, and management. Published 2012.

Insectopedia - Cutworm

Information on the common cutworm and brown cutworm. Description, biology, damage, monitoring, sampling, and control. Published 2000.