Cut-Worm, the caterpillar of an owlet moth of the tribe of noctuce and group agrotididm. The name has also been given to many other grubs and worms living in the ground. This caterpillar remains by day about the roots of plants, and comes forth at night to cut off the tender stems and leaves of cabbages, beans, corn, and many other culinary plants. Some of the moths of this family fly by day, others only at night; the wings are nearly horizontal when closed; the thorax smooth and slightly convex; the antennae of the males generally with two rows of fine tooth-like points on the under side; the fore legs are often spiny. Most of these moths appear in July and August, laying their eggs in the ground; in Europe the caterpillars are hatched in early autumn, and feed on the tender roots of plants; descending deeper in winter, they remain torpid until spring. The caterpillars of the agrotidians are smooth, shining, naked, dark-colored, with longitudinal pale and dark stripes, and a few black dots on each ring; cylindrical, short, and thick, with 16 legs; the chrysalis is transformed in the ground, without a cocoon.
The most destructive European species are the winter dart moth (agrotis segetum), and the wheat dart moth (A. tritici), both destroying the roots and leaves of winter wheat and buckwheat; the eagle moth (A. aquilina), an occasional pest in vineyards; and the antler moth (cJiarceas graminis), very destructive in meadows and mountain pastures. The American species have the same habits, appearing about the same time, destroying whole fields of corn, potatoes, cabbages, beans, and other vegetables, and also ornamental, plants. The caterpillars vary in length from one to two inches, and are thick, of a dark ashy gray color, with a brown head, and a pale dorsal stripe, with minute black dots; the chrysalis is of a shining dark brown, and the moth appears from the 20th of July to the middle of August. There are at least five species in New England. The largest is the A. telifera (Harris), having the fore wings light brown, divided by two transverse bands of wavy dark brown lines, and with three spots (one lance-marked) encircled with dark brown; the hind wings are pearly white, the abdomen gray; expanse of wings at least two inches.
The A. devastator (Harris), the moth of the cabbage cut-worm, has the fore wings dark satiny ashy gray, with four narrow, wavy, whitish bands edged with black, and white dots and dark spots; the hind wings are a light brownish gray, dusky behind; body gray; expanse of wings 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch. They fly only at night; the last is not easily taken, from its rapid motions, and often flies into lamps and candles after the middle of July. Other species are described by Dr. Harris. - The ravages of the true cut-worms are not prevented by any treatment of the seed, as they feed only on the young sprouts and stalks; the only effectual preventive is to open the earth daily at the foot of the growing plants and kill the worms, which are easily found. It is said that a manure of sea mud will protect a garden from these worms; some cultivators protect their cabbage plants by wrapping a walnut leaf or paper cone firmly around the root, secured by an earth embankment.
Cut-worm and Moth.