About ten species of lepidoptera, mainly nocturnal, are commonly called noctuids, whose larvae develop on numerous horticultural plants, shrubs and trees. Adults, usually with medium-sized bodies, greyish or light brown, begin their activity in late spring or early summer; they lay numerous eggs on the ground or on the leaves of the plants. The larvae feed on the leaves, massive infestations can cause the complete defoliation of the affected plants, sometimes they can settle in the semi-woody stems; in the case of some horticultural crops the nocturnal larvae also feed on fruits. In one year these butterflies can produce some generations, every 30-40 days, from June until September-October.
Remember Pyrrhia umbra, found above all on roses; Mamestra oleracea, widespread in the gardens; Heliotihis armigera, present above all on tomatoes; Acronicta aceris, which is found in tall trees, mainly on maples; Agrotis ipsilon and A. segetum, which infest agricultural crops; Autographa gamma, which infests vegetable and ornamental plants.
The nocturnal larvae can have the most disparate forms, generally they are of dimensions between the two and four centimeters, with glabrous body or covered by thin hairs, as in the case of the trees masts .; Autographa gamma is very common on ornamental plants, the caterpillars are bright green and tend to blend in with the vegetation.
Fortunately, the noctuids are easily eradicated with normal contact insecticides, such as acephate or pyrethroids; in the case of infestations of slight entity on the trees there is a tendency not to come, as usually the damage caused to the plants is not serious. In agriculture, the fight against some species of notaries is mandatory, in these cases it is good to contact the regional offices in charge.
Biological control at the night is practiced with bacillus thuringensis, after having verified the presence of numerous adults with pheromone traps.