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Agrotis ipsilon (Hufnagel)
Agrotis ypsilon (Rottemberg), Lycophotia ipsilon, Scotia ipsilon

Insecta, Lepidoptera, Noctuidae .

Dark sword-grass moth, Black cutworm, Greasy cutworm

Description, Biology, Life Cycle, Damage, Common Names, Images


[R]Description
- Adult: 45 mm wingspan, brown fore wings with a clearer area on the apical quarter. Each bears a clear uniform spot which is extended by a slender black triangle. The hind wings are extremely pale beige (*) .
- Larva: 45 mm, grey with, on each segment, 4 black spots disposed in a trapezium. The head is yellowish-brown.

[R]Biology
- Host plants: the caterpillars can attack a very wide range of cultivated plant species: potato, cereals, tobacco, maize, beet, asparagus, lettuce, onion, chicory, tomato, etc.
- Adult: the moths are nocturnal and can accomplish considerable journeys during the year. In the spring, the species migrates towards the north and becomes scarce in Africa and in hot Mediteranean regions; it returns southwards in autumn. These migrations involve several generations.
In France, the dark sword-grass moth disappears almost totally in winter.
- Eggs: the female lays 1,500 eggs in clusters of 10 to 15, preferably in the most humid zones which have been recently prepared for sowing or spring planting. Embryonic development lasts 4 to 5 days.
- Larva: the caterpillar feeds at night: it nibbles the leaves, the petioles, and the plant neck (*) ; during the day, it hides. Larval growth lasts 45 to 60 days in spring.
- Pupa: the larva pupates in the ground.

[R]Life Cycle
- 1 to 2 generations in the north of Europe and France.
- From the end of March to the beginning of May, the adults appear in the south of France, particularly on the Mediterranean coast. The sexually mature females lay eggs and the larval population which results can be harmful. The adults of that generation continue the migration northwards. From the end of July to September, a north-south migration of the adults occurs. A little egg laying can thus occur in the south of the country.

[R]Damage
In the event of the invasion of a field by the females of a migrating flight, followed by massive egg laying, the harvest can be totally destroyed by the unpredictable infestation of caterpillars.


[R]Common Names
DE: Ypsiloneule ES: Gusano cortador grasiento FR: Noctuelle ipsilon IT: Nottua ipsilon o Nottua dei seminati PT: Nóctua ípsilon GB: Dark sword-grass moth, Black cutworm, Greasy cutworm

[R] Images

  1. Agrotis ypsilon (Hufnagel) Adult on a maize leaf (Coutin R. / OPIE)
  2. Agrotis ypsilon (Hufnagel) Larvae At the base of fennel plant.

To read this page in French

HYPPZ on line : Species (scientific name), Pests (common names), Glossary, Crops.

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