Other Common Names
Black Cutworm (larva)
Greasy Cutworm (larva)
Dark Sword-Grass Moth (adult)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Agrotis ipsilon (Hufnagel, 1766)
First described in 1767 by Johann Siegfried Hufnagel
as Phalaena ipsilon
Phylogenetic sequence # 933528
Explanation of Names
Ipsilon is probably a spelling variant of the name for the Greek letter upsilon (Υ υ): the black wedges on the adult's forewing resemble the shape of this character.
Lafontaine & Schmidt (2010) listed 23 species of the genus Agrotis
in America north of Mexico. (1)
Forewing length 18-24 mm. (2)
Larvae to 45 mm.
Adult: forewing yellowish-brown to purplish, shaded with dark brown to blackish along costa in male - or over most of wing to PM line in female; antennae bipectinate in male (only in basal half, simple at apical one-third (TT))- simple in female; small black wedge descends from reniform spot, and another black wedge ascends from outer margin (sometimes the two wedges meet to form an hourglass shape); AM and PM lines double; reniform, orbicular, and claviform spots outlined in black; hindwing dirty white with grayish-brown shading.
Larva: body light gray to black on top, lighter below; two light stripes and two rows of small, black, raised bumps (tubercles) down center of back; cuticle covered with large and small granules; head brownish with many dark spots; sutures on front of head form inverted "V".
All of United States and southern Canada (absent from the arctic).
Croplands, fields and gardens.
Adults can be found year round in the south and fly May through November in northern areas.
The larvae feed on many cultivated plants (e.g. clover, corn, lettuce, potatoes, tobacco) plus grasses.
There are one or more generations per year, depending on latitude.
female with eggs; eggs; first instar larvae; larvae; older larva; pupa
The larva are a major pest on many commercial farms.
Lafontaine, J.D., 2004. The Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 27.1
. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation, p. 250; pl. L.36-38. (3)
Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler, 2009. Moths of Western North America
. University of California Press, pl. 58, fig. 5; p. 313. (2)
live adult images
of male and female, plus description, food plants, flight season (Lynn Scott, Ontario)
pinned adult image
of female (Bruce Walsh, Moths of Southeastern Arizona)
(Larry Line, Maryland)
of distribution, food plants, biology, control methods etc. (U. of Hawaii)