Heart and Dart Moth

Agrotis exclamationis, Heart and dart moth

Agrotis exclamationis, known as the heart and dart moth, affects a great number of staple European vegetables.

As a major pest of outdoors environments, the heart and dart moth, Agrotis exclamationis, can damage both solanaceaeous crops, root vegetables, as well as maize and cereal crops. It is common throughout Eastern and Central Europe, destroying the livelihood and sustenance of growers and consumers alike.


The Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) moth belongs to the family Noctuidae. It is the most common moth in Europe, spreading to Asia and Japan. The moth is easy to recognize, with forewings ranging from pale to dark brown with the distinctively shaped dark spots. The Heart and Dart moth flies at night from May to July and is attracted to light, sometimes in large numbers.

The larva is brown above and grey below and feeds on a variety of plants, both wild and cultivated. The species overwinters as a full-grown larva in a chamber in the soil before pupating in the spring.


Application Guidelines

The best way to track the presence of the Heart and Dart moth is via a Mothcatcher trap equipped with the insect’s pheromone. Trapping as many moths as possible will curtail an infestation and prevent damage, as fewer moths will mate and produce the detrimental cutworm larvae.

Find out about the Mothcatcher trap

Recent Literature

Inhibitors of Sexual Attraction in the Moth Agrotis Exclamationis

The sex-attractant system of the dart moth Agrotis exclamationis (L.) (Noctuidae) was re-investigated with electrophysiological and field trapping tests. The identified pheromone components (Z)-5-tetradecenyl acetate and (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate elicited maximum trap captures when combined in a Z5-/Z9-mixture ratio of between 100/10 and 100/20, in contrast to an earlier reported mixture optimum of 100/5. Each compound activated a particular type of receptor cell located in the male antennal hair sensilla. Three further cell types discovered in these sensilla Z)-7-dodecenyl acetate and (Z)-7- and (Z)-l1-tetradecenyl acetate. These latter compounds did not show attractive or synergistic properties in field trapping tests but rather reduced captures when added to the binary pheromone blend as a third component. The biological functions of these three “attraction-inhibitors™ remain unidentified.

Inhibitors of Sexual Attraction in the Moth Agrotis Exclamationis. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290046073_Inhibitors_of_Sexual_Attraction_in_the_Moth_Agrotis_Exclamationis [accessed Jul 3, 2017].

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In agricultural plant protection, signaling that there is
a pest to crops has been rarely used, except in respect of
a few phytophage species (Walczak et al. 2010). In order
to determine the optimal time for controlling agrophages,
first the appropriate monitoring of the agrophages must
be conducted (Walczak 1999). Such monitoring involves
systematic observation to determine the severity of the
disease or the stage of development and the population
size of the pests. If the threshold of economic harmfulness
is exceeded, the decision must be made about whether
or not to start chemical treatment (Walczak 2007, 2008).

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