WSU Extension


Raspberry : Cutworms and armyworms
(revision date: 7/10/2015)

Cutworms and armyworms are the larvae of noctuid moths. These common moths are medium-sized with fairly dull coloration. The pale green to brownish caterpillars are hairless, nocturnal, and generally spotted, striped, or otherwise marked. They may be 1/4" to 1" in length and tend to curl up when disturbed. They climb into the plant and feed on buds, shoots, and foliage. Armyworm behavior is similar to that of cutworms, but armyworms feed in large groups instead of individually. They tend to be voracious feeders. The caterpillars typically spend the day just beneath the soil surface or under debris near the host. While armyworms oftentimes feed during the day, cutworms usually feed at night, so it is advisable to search for them with a flashlight in the dark. Weeds are a primary food source for both cutworms and armyworms.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Control weeds and grasses in and near the garden.
  • Remove debris around plants that provides shelter for cutworms.
  • Hand-pick night-feeding larvae, when practical. Scratch soil at the base of damaged plants to find larvae in the daytime.
  • Encourage natural enemies of cutworms and armyworms including birds, spiders, and predacious insects. Avoid use of broad-spectrum insecticides that kill beneficial insects.
  • Plastic or cardboard collars extending 2" into the soil and 2" above the soil can be placed around individual plants or groups of plants. The barriers may help prevent attack.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) products when first tiny worms or their damage are seen. Repeat Bt products applications at weekly intervals until threat subsides. Use a spreader-sticker with liquid Bt formulations.

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.
  • Bonide Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew R-T-U [Organic]
    Active ingredient: spinosad (spinosyn A+D)  |  EPA reg no: 4-472
  • Bonide Thuricide BT Conc
    Active ingredient: Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki  |  EPA reg no: 4-226
  • Bug Buster-O [Organic]
    Active ingredient: pyrethrins  |  EPA reg no: 1021-1771-54705
  • Safer Brand Garden Dust RTU [Organic]
    Active ingredient: Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki  |  EPA reg no: 36488-25-42697
  • This list may not include all products registered for this use.
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Caption: Spotted cutworm
Photo by: K. Grey
Caption: Bertha armyworm
Photo by: K. Grey
Caption: Cutworm eggs
Photo by: A.L. Antonelli
Caption: Adult moth of the spotted cutworm, Xestia c-nigrum
Photo by: M. Bush