At my front door this morning - Golden Cutworm (Thysanoplusia orichalcea) - A tropical species that has been breeding in New Zealand since the 1980's. A nocturnal species that is attracted by light. Eggs deposited at, or near, ground level. Caterpillars hide underground during the day, emerging at night to feed.
'Have you ever planted seedlings, only to step out the next morning to find them laying on their side, cut off neatly at the base, as if someone has attacked them with scissors. It is terribly frustrating, but it is also very strange. So what's going on?
Well, it's probably the work of an insect pest called the Cutworm. They love fresh soft seedlings because they are so easy to chew.
Cutworms are a fat, puffy well-fed looking caterpillar - grey or dull pink in colour. You don't often see them because they only come out to feed at night. During the day, they hide in the soil or under mulch. If you scratch around a bit, you may find them curled up in a neat roll. If you do, grab them and feed them to the birds. That will help reduce their numbers considerably.
But what do you do about the hungry night prowlers left behind? Well the best thing to do is surround each of your seedlings with a clear, plastic cup. Just cut out the bottom and bury it a few centimetres into the soil. That will make a solid barrier that the cutworm can't get through.
Once your seedling is more established, their stems grow to be tougher and less attractive to caterpillars. Then you are safe to collect up the cups and put them aside for next time you are planting seedlings.'
They can eat my plants since they become such a pretty little moth