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Agronomist, Rob Harrod (Elders), has collected moths near Albury, in the South West Slopes district of New South Wales. The moths have been confirmed by entomologist, Ken Henry (SARDI), as the pink (or brown) cutworm (Agrotis munda). Cutworms are an important pest of many crops and pastures, particularly at crop establishment. They can have several generations per year and adults emerge in late spring/early summer. There are at least three species of cutworm that cause damage to crops.

Cutworm larvae are generally plump, greasy in appearance, and smooth bodied with most having uniform colouring ranging from pinkish brown to black. They grow up to 40-50 mm long and hide under the soil or litter by day, making them difficult to detect. They can often be located by scratching the surface near damaged plants; when disturbed they curl-up and remain stiff as a defensive response. Moths vary in colour from dull brown to black with wingspans ranging from 30-50 mm. For images of Agrotis munda, click here.

The common name 'cutworm' refers to the feeding habits of the larvae. Plants are often attacked at or near ground level so that the plant falls to the ground. Severe damage may be caused by sporadic outbreaks of these pests. Monitoring cutworm activity is best done at night when most larvae are feeding.

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