At the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center we have three high tunnels. Two of them have tomatoes plants, the third has pepper plants. All of the plants were transplanted into the high tunnels this past week. As I see pests in the greenhouses, I will try to report them here.
A few days ago, I found claybacked cutworm on tomato plants. On Wednesday, one of the plants was cut off at soil level. It appeared to be cutworm damage, but we could not find the pest. We replaced the tomato plant. The next morning in the early dawn, I went into the hightunnel and found the replacement tomato plant eaten in the same manner. Using the flashlight application on my phone I was able to find the cutworm right beside the damaged tomato plant. See photos below.
It is important to note that the cutworm, identified by John Obermeyer in the Purdue University Entmology Department, is a claybacked cutworm, not a black cutworm. Black cutworms do not overwinter in Indiana and would not be expected this time of year. Claybacked cutworms do over winter as mature larvae. See this link for more information on cutworms. See the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide forCommercial Growers 2014 for management help.
It is also important to note that I was able to find the cutworm at first dawn. This insect is nocturnal. So, the lesson is that in order to find cutworms, one must scout at first dawn. In other words, the early bird gets the worm!
I am not an entomologist, but if you have questions about this important pest, please let me know and I will try to get answers for you.
Claybacked cutworm damage on tomato. I found the cutworm
at dawn, when it was too dark to take a photos and placed the
larvae back on the plant to take photos when it was light.
(Click image for larger view)
Photo of the claybacked cutworm that had been eating the
tomato transplant. (Click image for larger view)