Cutworms are fat caterpillars with a "greasy" look. They have 3-5 pairs of "legs" near the rear and usually three pairs in the front. When disturbed, cutworms curl up in a "c" shape. They often regurgitate food. Most are: gray-brown, frequently lighter underneath, and some are mottled.
Damage signs include a seedling stalk cut off cleanly at ground level, with the dead top of the plant lying nearby. Often, the larva can be dug up in the soft soil close to the seedling. Cutworms often occur in areas of fields that have soils with a high percent organic matter or in fields planted behind a legume cover crop or fields which have been planted via reduced tillage methods.
Cutworms overwinter as late-stage larvae in cultivated soils and pastures or weeded areas. These larvae remain buried in the soil during the day and emerge at night to cut stalks of seedling cotton; they pass through four stages, which is the same as the cotton bollworm and tobacco budworm. Egg to adult requires about 30 days. Small worms hatch in three to five days after the eggs are laid. Females oviposit on an average of 500 eggs. One to four generations occur annually.