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Pest Information

Variegated Cutworm

Variegated Cutworm

  • Latin Name: Peridroma saucia
  • Common Name: Variegated Cutworm
  • Other Names: Pearly underwing

Pest Details

Variegated Cutworm
Variegated Cutworm
Variegated Cutworm
Variegated Cutworm


This moth is a native of North America and is found coast to coast in southern Canada, throughout the U.S. including Hawaii, and south in Latin America.


The larvae are general feeders on a wide variety of ornamental plants and agricultural row crops. While much of their damage is done by the typical feeding behavior of “cut” worms, where young plants are cut off at the base to feed on the foliage, these larvae also climb vines and trees to feed on fruit, vegetables, leaves, and buds of many plants. A complete life cycle is completed in 35-62 days in warm climates where there may be 5 generations per year and continuous activity throughout the year. In colder climates the pupa overwinters in the soil.


The adult moth is relatively large with a wingspan of about 2.5 inches. The forewings are brown to dark brown to brown with a reddish caste. Two large spots occur on the forewing consisting of an outline of black with a brown fill, and the outer spot is somewhat heart-shaped. The mature larva is about 2 inches long and brown, with a dark stripe on top and distinct dark bands along both sides. The female moth deposits her eggs on the foliage in parallel rows of 30 to 360 eggs. The larvae feed at night and hide during the day under plant debris or in loose soil, curling into a coil when uncovered or disturbed.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Removal of plant debris on the soil will help to remove cover the larvae need during the day, exposing them to predators and parasites. Contact insecticides can be applied to plants that show feeding damage and a granular insecticide applied to the soil can intercept larvae that emerge to feed at night.

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