Agrotis ipsilon

What are Greasy Cutworms?

Cutworms are caterpillars of night-flying moths that lay their eggs in the soil. After the caterpillars emerge they chew young plants and seedlings at ground level, sometimes eating right through the stem which subsequently falls over, hence the name cutworm.

The caterpillars grow up to 40mm long and range in colour from light-grey or pinkish-brown through to almost black. If disturbed, they curl up into a flat coil. They eat at night and take shelter under the soil during the day. They usually attack seedlings, but will also feed on foliage and soft fruits like strawberries. Cutworms are more likely to be active after periods of rain.


How to protect your plants against Cutworms

Prevent cutworm attack by placing small, open-ended plastic cups around plants or by wrapping plant bases with aluminium foil. Cutworms are only active at night, so go out after dark with a torch and check for caterpillars at work.


Plants impacted

  • Seedlings
  • Strawberries
  • Brassica vegetables
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Kūmara

Recommended products

More articles


If the lawn is looking brown, dead or bare in patches, it's likely to be the work of the Cosmopolitan armyworm. If your vegetables are being devastated, the offender will be Tropical Armyworm, or possibly Fall Armyworm. Here's how to identify and control armyworm in your lawn or garden.

Grass Grub

Grass grubs chew on the lawn, causing it brown and die. Here's how to protect your lawn from grass grubs.

Black Beetle

If your lawn is browning or your plants are suddenly dying, it may be the work of the black beetle or its larvae (grass grubs). Here's how to identify and control black beetles in the lawn and garden.