Noctua pronuba L Large yellow underwing moth

This widespread and generally common 'cutworm' attacks various vegetable crops, including brassicas, carrot, celery, leek, lettuce, onion, potato and red beet, especially in gardens and allotments. On vegetable crops, the larvae often bite out large cavities in the roots; minor damage is also caused to other horticultural crops, including strawberry. Unlike many other 'cutworm' species, the larvae frequently ascend plants to feed on leaves and other aerial parts; they are, therefore, referred to as 'climbing cutworms'. Unlike turnip moth, Agrotis segetum (p. 234), this species is often damaging in cool, damp summers.


Adults fly mainly from mid-June to August. Eggs are laid in large batches on the leaves of various plants and hatch about 3 weeks later. Larvae occur from July onwards and most complete their development in the following May. A few, however, may develop more rapidly and produce a partial second generation of adults in the autumn. Pupation occurs in an earthen cell, without forming a cocoon.


Adult 50-60 mm wingspan; forewings extremely variable, ranging from yellowish-brown to dark brown; hindwings dusky-yellow with a blackish-brown border (Fig. 325). Egg hemispherical, ribbed and reticulated, creamish-white to purplish-grey. Larva up to 50 mm long; body plump but narrowed anteriorly; colour varies from ochreous or brown to green, with a pale

Fig. 325 Large yellow underwing moth, Noctua pronuba (x2).

dorsal line and distinctive pairs of black bars on the abdominal segments; spiracles black; head light brown with darker markings. Pupa 2225 mm long, plump, reddish-brown and glossy; cremaster with two strong spines.

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