Climbing Cutworm


Climbing cutworms are the larval stages of night-flying moths from the family of Noctuidae. They derive their name from the larval habit of climbing the trees to feed on buds, young foliage, and shoots. The larvae feed during the night on varying host plants, then crawl back down to the ground to hide under leaf litter, or debris during the day.

Life Cycle

Climbing cutworms develop through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult (moth). Eggs are laid on leaves, twigs, bark, or even grasses at night. It takes three weeks to two months for them to complete a life cycle depending on the moth species and environmental conditions. Most climbing cutworm species have one or two generations per year.


The larval stage crawls up the host trees during the night and feeds on green parts. The larvae of some species sometimes completely strip the buds and shoots, and, in some species, they leave only the main vein of the leaf after feeding. Climbing cutworms can be found in grapes, apples, peaches, pears, and plums. Ash, boxelder, birch, maple, and other species are also their hosts.



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