Several species of cutworms infest cotton. The adult cutworm is a robust brown to gray moth (Fig. 62). When disturbed, cutworm larvae curl up into a C-shape and regurgitate. The larvae are often shiny or glossy and always have four pairs of prolegs (Fig. 63).
Cutworms usually cut off seedling cotton plant stems at the soil surface. The resulting stand reduction may be more visible at field margins and in low-lying, weedy areas. On rare occasions, cutworm damage can be severe enough to require replanting.
In no-till or limited-till situations, cutworms can establish on existing vegetation and move to emerging cotton seedlings when that vegetation dies. Reduce the risk of cutworm attack by destroying all existing vegetation 3 to 4 weeks before planting.
Chemical Control and Action Threshold
Treat for cutworms if infestations threaten to reduce the stand below 35,000 plants/acre (on an avereage 2.68 plants/row foot with 40-ich row spacing) in a field or part of a field.