NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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Venus flytrap cutworms, Hemipachnobia subporphyrea, are light brown caterpillars with a narrow, distinct, pale yellow stripe down the back outlined by darker brown lines. A faint yellow line outlined by slightly darker brown lines occurs on either side of the back. A relatively dark brown, narrow line down each side separates the pale undersides from the brown top side. It is likely that these mature cutworms crawl to the soil surface and dig in to pupate the following spring. In late March to early May, reddish brown moths emerge to mate and lay eggs. The wingspan is about 11/2 inches. Females have slender antennae whereas the antennae of males are feathered. Moths peak in April. The Venus flytrap cutworm is confined to the fragmented distribution of Venus fly taps and the population is considered extremely reduced. Colonies are clustered in wet pine savannas, a habitat that needs fire to persist,

Venus flytrap cutworms

Venus flytrap cutworms are fairly typical owlet moth caterpillars.

Venus flytrap cutworm

Venus flytrap cutworms are late-spring, early-summer feeders.

Host Plants

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Appropriately enough, Venus flytrap cutworms have only been collected while feeding on Venus fly traps. However, the related sundew dart, Hemiachynobia monochromatea, switches to plants in the blueberry family in its late stages so Venus flytrap cutworms may do likewise.

Residential Recommendations

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Since few residences exist in wet pine savanas and since the venus flytrap cutworm is an endangered species, control recommendations for Venus flytrap cutworms are not recommended.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology & Plant Pathology

Publication date: Nov. 14, 2018
Revised: Oct. 18, 2019

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