Press Bulletin No. 19.
(H. A. GOSARID, ENTO. FLA. Exi'. STATION.)
Cut-worms are the larval forms of a family of incon-
spicuous, dull-colored, night-flying moths, the Noctuidal .
The moths are not often seen in the daytime, as they hide
in dark corners, under dense vegetation, beneath boards,
clods or stones, or settle upon gray or dark surfaces such
as tree trunks or fence boards, their colors hbrmoniziug
so well with the objects upon which they rest, that only the
eye of the practiced observer is likely to detect them at
all. They come quite readily to lights but not in suffi-
cient numbers to pay for trapping them in this way.
They are readily decoyed at night to sweetened baits of
penetrating odor, such as fermented molasses, or syrup
mixed with a little beer or rum. Sugar dissolved in water
may be substituted for syrup. The collector avails him-
self of this habit but it hardly pays to catch them in this
way from an economic standpoint.
There are many species of cut-worm moths with vary-
March Ist, 1902.
ing habits and differing details of life history. M- of
the larvam are comparatively naked caterpillars, living
near the surface of. the ground, though some have I
climbing habit and ascend trees. The eggs are laid in
grss land: lettuce beds, weedy patches or in any place
which supports a low, dense, succulent vegetation. They
are rarely laid on or in the ground, being normally depos-
ited on the leaves among which the moths hide them-
selves. The full grown worms are from an inch to an inch
and a-half or more in length and the number of broods
varies from one to three, according to the species, though
one brood is the general rule. In Florida some of the
pests may be found at all seasons and special care to get
rid of them must be taken upon land from which a dense,
low crop has just been removed.
The most effective treatment is found in a poisoned
bait consisting of wheat bran and Paris green, just enough
of the latter to tinge the mass with a greenish color, to
which a. little syrup may be added with advantage. Corn
-meal or cotton seed meal may be substituted for the bran.
Immediately after the ground is plowed scatter this bait
in little heaps all over the field and leave for two or three
nights'before planting the new crop. The insects having
nothing else to feed upon will devour the poison greedily
and the dead will very soon be found in numbers on the
surface. If the plant's of the new crop are set out singly
a ring of the poisoned mixture may be placed around
each one or if planted in rows a line of it may be distrib-
uted( along each side of the row. The observance of these
precautions will generally give very satisfacty results.
In small gardens, plants such as tomatoes and cab-
bages are sometimes planted each one in a cone of thick
paper, heavy brown wrapping paper will do, with the
upper edge or base of the cone projecting about two
inches above the ground and the apex extending about
three or four inches below. This cone does not interfere
with the passage of moisture to the plant and will not
rot down until the plant has outgrown the danger of cut-
worm attack. It is a good plan to make vertical holes
having a depth of a foot or more in infested ground and
with perfectly smooth and firm sides. A sharpened
broom .handle is a suitable instrument with which to
make such holes. The worms will retreat into these
holes to hide and are unable to crawl out again. Where
cultivation is practically continuous this plan will not do.
Little protection can be secured from choice of ferti-
lizers, though Kainit has some value in destroying them.
Cut-worms are often destroyed by parasites, the most
common of which are the maggots of large, gray bristly
flies, closely related to the well known flesh flies infest-
ing putrid meats. The uninformed are often puzzled by
the presence of these maggots within the bodies of the
cut-worms and suppose them to be younger cut-worms in
in the process of development. Their true nature can be
proven by keeping a parasitized insect in a bottle with a
little moist earth and stopped with a cotton wad until the
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