Agriculture: Pear Pest Management Guidelines

Cutworms and Armyworms

  • Beet armyworm: Spodoptera exigua
  • Spotted cutworm: Xestia spp.
  • Variegated cutworm: Peridroma saucia
  • Western yellowstriped armyworm: Spodoptera praefica
  • Description of the Pest

    Cutworms and armyworms are considered minor pests; infestations are scattered and infrequent in most California pear orchards. Adults and larvae usually are active at night and not normally seen.


    Cutworms and armyworms may become a chronic problem in some orchards where lush ground covers grow up into trees, thus favoring early worm development and access to the trees. They feed on fruit surfaces and foliage in the lower parts of the tree. Foliage will have holes and appear tattered or be stripped. In late districts, spotted cutworms can occur in heavy numbers without warning and sometimes do extensive damage in a short period of time. They climb into trees when buds are developing in spring and destroy part or all of the blossom clusters and new leaves. Later generations may attack fruit and foliage up to harvest. This is not a frequent problem.


    Cutworms and armyworms are very infrequent pests. If stripped foliage or destroyed buds are observed, look for cutworms at night. Generally, damage occurs only in orchards with overgrown ground covers. If problems occur, control ground vegetation.

    Text Updated: 11/12