Cutworm and Dart Moths of Columbia County, Oregon

Cutworm and Dart Moths belong to the Family Noctuidae. Many have grub-like larva that live on or near the ground, with names such as “cutworms” or “armyworms” that reflect their occasional role as agricultural pests. In North America there are over 1,500 species within the “cutworm” subfamily alone. Thus, our coverage of any particular species is limited, and we’ve omitted many of the lesser-seen species. A fantastic resource for more specific information on all our moths is Pacific Northwest Moths.

Other Lepidoptera groups include Tiger and Tussock Moths, Sphinx and Silk Moths, Geometer Moths and their inchworms, Snout Moths and other Micromoths, Clearwing Moths, Plume Moths, Scoopwing Moths and Butterflies.

Cutworm and Dart Moths (subfamily Noctuinae)

Over 150 species of this subfamily can be found in our area. Several of them are famous as agricultural pests. A sampling of fifty of the most common species are shown here.

Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba columbia county northwest oregon
Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) – “Winter Cutworm”. Found in grass and disturbed areas. Invasive from Eurasia. (photo © Patricia Teague)
Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes columbia county northwest oregon
Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) – Another invasive Eurasian species found in grassland and oak. (photo © stefanodirektor)
Variegated Cutworm Moth Peridroma saucia columbia county northwest oregon
Variegated Cutworm Moth (Peridroma saucia) – Not native but has outbreaks in disturbed habitats. (photo © Rich Hoyer)
Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa columbia county northwest oregon
Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) – Invasive Eurasian species found in grasslands and agriculture. (photo © Matt Hunter)
Large Yellow Underwing larva Noctua pronuba moth caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Large Yellow Underwing larva (Noctua pronuba) – “Winter Cutworm”. Eats grassses and many other plants. (photo © Andrea Grossi)
Lesser Yellow Underwing larva Noctua comes caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Lesser Yellow Underwing larva (Noctua comes) – Generalist on herbaceous vegetation in many habitats. (photo © hllng)
Variegated Cutworm Moth larva Peridroma saucia columbia county northwest oregon
Variegated Cutworm Moth larva (Peridroma saucia) – “Winter Cutworm”. Eats grassses and many other plants. (photo © BJ Stacey)
Square-spot Rustic larva Xestia xanthographa caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Square-spot Rustic larva (Xestia xanthographa) – Feeds on rye and other course nonnative grasses. (photo © Kjeld Brem)
White-speck Moth Mythimna unipuncta columbia county northwest oregon
White-speck Moth (Mythimna unipuncta) – The “Armyworm”. Found in agricultural settings. (photo © Ali Ashraf)
Lesser Wainscot Mythimna oxygala columbia county northwest oregon
Lesser Wainscot (Mythimna oxygala) – Found in wet forest, grassland, and agriculture. (photo © Mike Patterson)
Ipsilon Dart Moth Agrotis ipsilon columbia county northwest oregon
Ipsilon Dart Moth (Agrotis ipsilon) – “Black Cutworm”. Found in agricultural and urban areas, often as a pest. (photo © Mike Patterson)
Small Ranunculus Hecatera dysodea columbia county northwest oregon
Small Ranunculus (Hecatera dysodea) – Introduced from Eurasia, found as a pest in disturbed habitats. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Yellow-headed Cutworm Moth Apamea amputatrix columbia county northwest oregon
Yellow-headed Cutworm Moth (Apamea amputatrix) – Found in all moist habitats, especially agriculture and disturbed. (photo © Mike Patterson)
Glassy Cutworm Moth Apamea devastator columbia county northwest oregon
Glassy Cutworm Moth (Apamea devastator) – Found in moist grassland, wetlands, and agriculture. (photo © Damon Tighe)
Thoughtful Apamea Moth Apamea cogitata columbia county northwest oregon
Thoughtful Apamea Moth (Apamea cogitata) – Found across moist habitats, especially agriculture and disturbed. (photo © Liam Hutcheson)
Airy Apamea Moth Apamea vultuosa columbia county northwest oregon
Airy Apamea Moth (Apamea vultuosa) – Found on grasses in moist forests. (photo © Mike Patterson)
White-speck Moth larva Mythimna unipuncta caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
White-speck Moth larva (Mythimna unipuncta) – “Armyworm”, feeds on grasses and grains. (photo © Kent McFarland)
Ipsilon Dart Moth larva Agrotis ipsilon columbia county northwest oregon
Ipsilon Dart Moth larva (Agrotis ipsilon) – “Black Cutworm”. Burrows in soil feeding on many plants including crops. (photo © Jason J. Dombrowskie)
Small Ranunculus larva Hecatera dysodea caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Small Ranunculus (Hecatera dysodea) – Feeds on wild lettuce and other lettuces. (photo © Emanuele Santarelli)
Glassy Cutworm Moth larva Apamea devastator columbia county northwest oregon
Glassy Cutworm Moth larva (Apamea devastator) – Eats grasses and grains at the soil’s surface. (photo © schoolstreetflowers)
Pacific Quaker moth Orthosia pacifica columbia county northwest oregon
Pacific Quaker (Orthosia pacifica) – Found in dry woodland, feeding on oak and madrone. (photo © Kevin Toomer)
Rose Clay Diarsia rosaria columbia county northwest oregon moth
Rose Clay (Diarsia rosaria) – Feeds on grasses in numerous habitats. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Hunger Clay Diarsia esurialis columbia county northwest oregon
Hunger Clay (Diarsia esurialis) – Generalist in diverse forest habitat. (photo © Jen Sanford)
V-lined Quaker Zosteropoda hirtipes columbia county northwest oregon moth
V-lined Quaker (Zosteropoda hirtipes) – A generalist climbing cutworm found in many habitats. (photo © Matt Hunter)
Girdler Moth Dargida procinctus Olive Green Cutworm Mothcolumbia county northwest oregon
Girdler Moth (Dargida procinctus) – “Olive Green Cutworm”. Found in moist grassland and pasture. (photo © Brodie Cass Talbot)
Otter Spiramater Moth Spiramater lutra columbia county northwest oregon
Otter Spiramater Moth (Spiramater lutra) – Generalist found in moist forest. (photo © Louis Imbeau)
Sharp-spotted Pinion Peridroma saucia moth columbia county northwest oregon
Sharp-spotted Pinion (Peridroma saucia) – Specialist on Douglas-fir and true firs. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Nightingale Moth Andropolia aedon columbia county northwest oregon
Nightingale Moth (Andropolia aedon) – Feeds on hardwoods in moist forest. (photo © Chloe and Trevor Van Loon)
Vancouver Dart Moth Agrotis vancouverensis columbia county northwest oregon
Vancouver Dart Moth (Agrotis vancouverensis) – Found in moist grassland, oak woodland, and forest openings. (photo © Chloe and Trevor Van Loon)
Starry Dart Moth Adelphagrotis stellaris columbia county northwest oregon
Starry Dart Moth (Adelphagrotis stellaris) – Found in moist forests, feeding on hardwoods. (photo © Seymore Gulls)
Enigmatic Dart Moth erastis enigmatica columbia county northwest oregon
Enigmatic Dart Moth (Cerastis enigmatica) – Found in moist forest, feeding on salmonberry. (photo © Jim Johnson)
American Angle Shades Euplexia benesimilis columbia county northwest oregon
American Angle Shades (Euplexia benesimilis) – Broad generalist in many forest habitats. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Girdler Moth larva Olive Green Cutworm Dargida procinctus caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Girdler Moth larva (Dargida procinctus) – “Olive Green Cutworm”. Feeds on grasses, especially orchard and rye. (photo © Andrea Wuenschel)
Otter Spiramater Moth Spiramater lutra columibia county northwest oregon
Otter Spiramater Moth (Spiramater lutra – “Winter Cutworm”. Eats grassses and many other plants. (photo © Koaw Nature)
Nightingale Moth larva Andropolia aedon caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Nightingale Moth (Andropolia aedon) – Generalist feeding on many hardwoods, especially alder. (photo © tjmcdonough)
American Angle Shades larva Euplexia benesimilis columbia county northwest oregon
American Angle Shades larva (Euplexia benesimilis) – Everything from ferns to herbs, hardwoods to conifers. (photo © fmkessler)
Brown Woodling Egira perlubens columbia county northwest oregon
Brown Woodling (Egira perlubens) – Found in drier oak woodland and mixed hardwood forest. (photo © Liam Hutchison)
Crucialis Woodling Moth Egira crucialis columbia county northwest oregon
Crucialis Woodling Moth (Egira crucialis) – Found in moist forest and riparian, feeding on hardwoods. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Red Ochre Woodling Moth Egira rubrica columbia county northwest oregon
Red Ochre Woodling Moth (Egira rubrica) – Found in moist forest and riparian, feeding on hardwoods. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Winter Woodling Moth Egira hiemalis columbia county northwest oregon
Winter Woodling Moth (Egira hiemalis) – Feeds on hardwoods in diverse forest. (photo © Jen Sanford)
Elder Moth Zotheca tranquilla columbia county northwest oregon
Elder Moth (Zotheca tranquilla) – Feeds on elderberry in moist forest and riparian. (photo © matthewcevans1)
Civil Rustic Moth Caradrina montana columbia county northwest oregon
Civil Rustic Moth (Caradrina montana) – Found in dry grassland and oak woodland. (photo © Donna L Dugan)
Wedgling Moth (Galgula partita) – Feeds on wood-sorrels in moist forest. (photo © ravendi6)
Cracked Quaker Homorthodes fractura columbia county northwest oregon moth
Cracked Quaker (Diarsia esurialis) – Likely feeds on alder in mixed forest. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth Orthosia hibisci columbia county northwest oregon
Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth (Orthosia hibisci) – Found in numerous forest and disturbed habitats both. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Transparent Quaker Moth (Orthosia transparens) – Found in forest feeding on salal and rhododendron. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Collared Quaker Moth (Orthosia praeses) – Common in forest habitats. (photo © Ben Keen)
Dark-winged Quaker Eremobina claudens columbia county northwest oregon
Dark-winged Quaker (Eremobina claudens) – Feeds on sedges in meadows and bogs. (photo © Mike Patterson)
Flame-shouldered Dart Ochropleura implecta columbia county northwest oregon
Flame-shouldered Dart (Ochropleura implecta) – Found throughout moist coastal forests. (photo © Jen Sanford)
Rusty Shoulder Knot Moth Aseptis binotata columbia county northwest oregon
Rusty Shoulder Knot Moth (Aseptis binotata) – Found in many forest habitats. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Green Arches Anaplectoides prasina columbia county northwest oregon
Green Arches (Anaplectoides prasina) – Found in mixed hardwood forests. (photo © Jen Sanford)
Olive Arches Moth Lacinipolia olivacea columbia county northwest oregon
Olive Arches Moth (Lacinipolia olivacea) – Found in moist forest, grassland, and urban areas. (photo © Mike Patterson)
Stormy Arches Polia nimbosa columbia county northwest oregon
Stormy Arches (Polia nimbosa) – Feeds on hardwoods in moist mixed forest. (photo © Lee Cain)
Hitched Arches Melanchra adjuncta columbia county northwest oregon
Hitched Arches (Melanchra adjuncta) – Found in forest habitat. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Lacinipolia patalis columbia county northwest oregon
Path-like Arches Moth (Lacinipolia patalis) – Found in moist mixed hardwood, feeding on Rosaceae. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Cuneate Arches Moth Lacinipolia cuneata columbia county northwest oregon
Cuneate Arches Moth (Lacinipolia cuneata) – Found in moist forest habitats. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Elder Moth Zotheca tranquilla columbia county northwest oregon
Elder Moth (Zotheca tranquilla) – Specializes on elderberries. (photo © dlbowls)
Nightingale Moth larva Andropolia aedon caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Wedgling Moth (Galgula partita – Specialist on wood-sorrels. (photo © yukioz)
Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth larva Orthosia hibisci
Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth (Orthosia hibisci) – Generalist feeding on many different hardwoods. (photo © klangdon)
Hitched Arches larva Melanchra adjuncta caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Hitched Arches larva (Melanchra adjuncta) – Generalist feeding on many herbs and hardwoods. (photo © crgillette)
C-marked Currant Moth Stretchia muricina columbia county northwest oregon
C-marked Currant Moth (Stretchia muricina) – Found in moist forest. (photo © Jim Johnson)
C-marked Currant Moth larva Stretchia muricina caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
C-marked Currant Moth (Stretchia muricina) – Feeds on currants in riparian zones. (photo © Henrik Kibak)
Immaculate Trichordestra moth Trichordestra liquida columbia county northwest oregon
Immaculate Trichordestra (Trichordestra liquida) – Found in moist forest. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Immaculate Trichordestra larva Trichordestra liquida moth caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Immaculate Trichordestra larva (Trichordestra liquida) – Generalist feeding on grass, plants, and hardwoods. (photo © B Staffan Lindgren)

Plusine Looper Moths (subfamily Plusiinae)

Plusine Looper Moths can be recognized by their thorax tufts and tendency to hold their wings in a sloping-roof style.

Alfalfa Looper Moth Autographa californica
Alfalfa Looper Moth (Autographa californica) – Habitat generalist found virtually everywhere. (photo © Harsi Parker)
Large Looper Moth Autographa ampla caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Large Looper Moth (Autographa ampla) – Found in riparian habitat in moist coniferous forest. (photo © henrya)
Caramel Looper Moth Autographa corusca columbia county northwest oregon
Caramel Looper Moth (Autographa corusca) – Habitat restricted to coastal rainforest. (photo © Ben Keen)
Cabbage Looper Moth Trichoplusia ni columbia county northwest oregon
Cabbage Looper Moth (Trichoplusia ni) – Habitat generalist, migrates readily. (photo © nmrvelj)
Salt-and-pepper Looper Moth Syngrapha rectangula columbia county northwest oregon
Salt-and-pepper Looper Moth (Syngrapha rectangula) – Found in moist coniferous forest. (photo © Lee Cain)
Pink-patched Looper Moth Eosphoropteryx thyatyroides columbia county northwest oregon
Pink-patched Looper Moth (Eosphoropteryx thyatyroides) – Requires undisturbed forest stream habitat. (photo © bobsaunders)
West Coast Plusia Plusia nichollae columbia county northwest oregon
West Coast Plusia (Plusia nichollae) – Found in wetlands and riparian zones. (photo © Ben Keen)
Spectacled Nettle Moth Abrostola urentis columbia county northwest oregon
Spectacled Nettle Moth (Abrostola urentis) – Found in moist forest and riparian habitat. (photo © Agnus Mossman)
Alfalfa Looper Moth larva Autographa californica caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Alfalfa Looper Moth larva (Autographa californica) – Feeds on everything but prefers legumes. (photo © Rich Hoyer)
Cabbage Looper Moth larva Trichoplusia ni columbia county northwest oregon
Cabbage Looper Moth larva (Trichoplusia ni) – Feeds on everything but prefers the cabbage family. (photo © alicia)
Pink-patched Looper Moth larva Eosphoropteryx thyatyroides caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Pink-patched Looper Moth larva (Eosphoropteryx thyatyroides) – Feeds on meadow-rue and columbine. (photo © christine123)
Spectacled Nettle Moth larva Abrostola urentis columbia county northwest oregon
Spectacled Nettle Moth larva (Abrostola urentis) – Feeds on stinging nettle. (photo © dbree)

Dagger Moths (subfamily Acronictinae)

Called “dagger moths” due to the prominent black markings on the forewings of some species. Larva are often hairy and cause a rash when touched.

Large Gray Dagger Acronicta insita
Large Gray Dagger (Acronicta insita) – Very common in moist mixed forest. (photo © Mike Patterson)
Impressive Dagger Acronicta impressa moth columbia county northwest oregon
Impressive Dagger (Acronicta impressa) – Found in a variety of forests. (photo © Liam Hutcheson)
Powdered Dagger Acronicta impleta moth larva caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Powdered Dagger (Acronicta impleta) – Found in range of forest habitats. (photo © Gary Nunn)
Funerary Dagger Acronicta funeralis moth columbia county northwest oregon
Funerary Dagger (Acronicta funeralis) – Rare here, found in hardwood forest. (photo © brianktaft)
Fragile Dagger Acronicta fragilis moth columbia county northwest oregon
Fragile Dagger (Acronicta fragilis) – Rare riparian species here. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Miller Dagger Acronicta vulpina moth columbia county northwest oregon
Miller Dagger (Acronicta vulpina) – A rare species here of mixed coastal forest. (photo © Ray Simpson)
Fragile Dagger larva Acronicta fragilis caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Fragile Dagger (Acronicta fragilis) – Feeds on hardwoods including cherries, apples, and roses. (photo © Giff Beaton)
Miller Dagger Acronicta vulpina larva moth caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Miller Dagger larva (Acronicta vulpina) – Feeds on birch, willow, and possibly alder. (photo © Rose Hakim)
Large Gray Dagger Acronicta insita moth caterpillar larva columbia county northwest oregon
Large Gray Dagger larva (Acronicta insita) – Feeds on alders and willows. (photo © abbee1)
Impressive Dagger Acronicta impressa larva caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Impressive Dagger larva (Acronicta impressa) – Feeds on hardwoods, especially roses. (photo © Gene H)
Powdered Dagger Acronicta impleta moth larva caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Powdered Dagger larva (Acronicta impleta) – Feeds on cottonwoods and alders. (photo © robertweeden)
Funerary Dagger Acronicta funeralis larva moth caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Funerary Dagger larva (Acronicta funeralis) – Feeds on hardwoods. (photo © sylviamidgett)

Sallow Moths (subfamily Feralia)

Adults and larva alike are green with brilliant black and white patterning.

Deceptive Sallow Feralia deceptiva moth columbia county northwest oregon
Deceptive Sallow (Feralia deceptiva) – Forest species feeding on Douglas-fir. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Oregon Oak Sallow Feralia februalis moth columbia county northwest oregon
Oregon Oak Sallow (Feralia februalis) – Oak woodland, feeding on Oregon White Oak. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Comstock's Sallow Feralia comstocki moth columbia county northwest oregon
Comstock’s Sallow (Feralia comstocki) – Found in moist coniferous forest. (photo © John D Reynolds)
Comstock's Sallow larva Feralia comstocki caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Comstock’s Sallow larva (Feralia comstocki) – Feeds on conifers including Douglas-fir, spruce, and true firs. (photo © Erik Knopf)

other Noctuidae moths

Shell-scalloped Moth Behrensia conchiformis columbia county northwest oregon
Shell-scalloped Moth (Behrensia conchiformis) – Moist forest with snowberry and honeysuckle. (photo © Charles Swift)
White Annaphila Annaphila diva columbia county northwest oregon
White Annaphila (Annaphila diva) – Found in riparian habitat in low-elevation mountains. (photo © Noah Strycker)
Western Panthea Moth Panthea virginarius) columbia county northwest oregon
Western Panthea Moth (Panthea virginarius) – Found in Douglas-fir forest. (photo © Jim Johnson)
Western Panthea Moth larva caterpillar Panthea virginarius columbia county northwest oregon
Western Panthea Moth larva (Panthea virginarius) – Feeds on conifers, especially Douglas-fir. (photo © mac-e)
Darker-spotted Straw Moth Heliothis phloxiphaga columbia county northwest oregon
Darker-spotted Straw Moth (Heliothis phloxiphaga) – Grassland and urban areas. (photo © Charles Swift)
Pale Glyph Protodeltote albidula columbia county northwest oregon
Pale Glyph (Protodeltote albidula) – Common in wet grassland in riparian zones. (photo © Lee Cain)
Tobacco Budworm Moth Chloridea virescens columbia county northwest oregon
Tobacco Budworm Moth (Chloridea virescens) – Not a permanent resident but migrates north in summer. (photo © Rich Hoyer)
Tobacco Budworm Moth larva Chloridea virescens caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Tobacco Budworm Moth larva (Chloridea virescens) – Generalist feeding on many plants, typically as an agricultural pest. (photo © David Cappaert)
Four-spotted Moth Tyta luctuosa columbia county northwest oregon
Four-spotted Moth (Tyta luctuosa) – Introduced to agricultural areas to control Hedge Bindweed. (photo © scarlettarbuckle)
American Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidoides moth columbia county northwest oregon
American Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidoides) – Found in moist forest. (photo © Colin Meyer)
Langton's Forester Alypia langtoni columbia county northwest oregon
Langton’s Forester (Alypia langtoni) – Found in openings in middle-elevation coniferous forest. (photo © Scott O’Donnell)
Langton's Forester larva Alypia langtoni caterpillar columbia county northwest oregon
Langton’s Forester larva (Alypia langtoni) – Feeds exclusively on fireweeds. (photo © Jonathan Fréchette)

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