Agrotis ipsilon (Hufnagel)
The black cutworm is a cosmopolitan pest that poses an economic threat to many agricultural plant species. It is most often a pest of corn, but can also cause trouble in wheat and tobacco. It will also attack some vegetable crops, including sweet corn, and can be problematic in turf grasses. Newly hatched larvae are about a quarter inch long and grow to be about two inches long when full sized. Their color ranges from gray to nearly black. There is a pale rather indistinct narrow stripe along the center of the back. The moths are relatively large compared to similar species and have wingspans of 41.5-2.0 inches. They are brownish in color and their forewings have small but distinct black dagger-like markings that extend toward the end of the wing from bean-shaped wing spots. The forewings also have an irregular whitish band that extends across the wings and is just off the tip of the dagger-like markings. Moths of the final generation (mid Fall) fly south to escape dropping temperatures.
The black cutworm is a widespread species which can be found from southern Canada throughout the United States, Mexico, and South America. Each year in North Carolina, infested fields occur from the coast to the Tennessee state line.