What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

January 18, 2010
Live caterpillars in the snow, New England.
Hi – I found about a dozen of these caterpillars – live caterpillars – on the top of the snow this morning.  It was a windy stormy night, temps in the high 20’s.  Most of the trees in this area are oak trees.   We are in Dover, MA, about 15 miles just southeast of Boston. Can you please tell me what kind of caterpillars these are?
Thanks,
Judy

Cutworm in the Snow

Hi Judy,
This looks like a Cutworm, a member of the subfamily Noctuinae.  Perhaps one of our readers will have more information on what species might be found in the snow.

Comment from Karl:
It’s probably a Winter Cutworm, the common name for the caterpillar of the Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba). It’s an immigrant species from Europe that has become a pest in much of eastern North America.  According to the book, Caterpillars of Eastern North America (David L. Wagner), “The caterpillars are active during thaws throughout the winter – commonly turning up on sidewalks, sauntering into garages, or crawling along banks of snow. If someone brings you a cutworm in the dead of winter – this is it.”  There are some good photos and information at: http://www.pestid.msu.edu/InsectsArthropods/NoctuaPronuba/tabi/73/Default.aspx

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

5 Responses to Cutworm in the Snow is Winter Cutworm

  1. kkroeker says:

    It’s probably a Winter Cutworm, the common name for the caterpillar of the Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba). It’s an immigrant species from Europe that has become a pest in much of eastern North America. According to the book, Caterpillars of Eastern North America (David L. Wagner), “The caterpillars are active during thaws throughout the winter – commonly turning up on sidewalks, sauntering into garages, or crawling along banks of snow. If someone brings you a cutworm in the dead of winter – this is it.” There are some good photos and information at: http://www.pestid.msu.edu/InsectsArthropods/NoctuaPronuba/tabid/73/Default.aspx

  2. Vanessa says:

    Hi, I’m from Nova Scotia, Canada. I woke up to dozens of these caterpillars. Right after our big snow storm the night before. Is this normal, I’ve never seen this before. Does it predict what kind of winter we may have?

    • bugman says:

      The Winter Cutworm is active in the snow. As it is not a native species, we cannot comment on predicting a Canadian winter.

  3. Bernie Stickles says:

    Found these winter cutworms crawling on the snow here in the Hudson Valley of Upstate NY. (Columbia County). Have found several the last several weeks right outside by our house

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