Agrotis crinigera (Butler)

Poko Cutworm (Agrotis crinigera)  

The Poko Cutworm, so named for its native name Poko, was one of the moth species, that in the time after the arrival of European settlers on the Hawai’i Islands were able to adapt quite well to the new set of circumstances.  

The species reached a wingspan of about 4,9 cm.  

The natural host plants of the caterpillars were several native species of Ihi (Portulaca spp.) as well as ‘Ilima (Sida fallax Walp.), but in the meantime they also adapted themselves to introduced plant species and fed on the leaves of thorn-apple plants (Datura spp.) and sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum L.). Furthermore they fed on several garden plants, especially of the legume family, e.g. beans, and therefore may not have been very welcome to gardens.  

In 1899, Hugo H. Schauinsland wrote the following notes about his observations of this species on the island of Laysan.:

Of the insects I found on Laysan, only the following … Spaelotis crinigera Butl.; the latter occurred in astonishingly hugh numbers. Its “grublike caterpillar” lives under ground on the roots of Eragrostis.” [2]


Even though the Poko Cutworm was distributed all over the Hawaiian main islands, it belongs to the extirpated species now, whereas the reasons for this seem still to be unknown up to date.  

The species was last seen in 1926.  



[1] E. C. Zimmerman: Insects of Hawaii 7, Macrolepidoptera. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1958  
[2] Hugo H. Schauinsland: Three months on a coral island (Laysan); translated by Miklos D. F. Udvardy. Atoll Research Bulletin 432. 1996


Depiction from: ‘George F. Hampson: Catalogue of the Lepidoptera Phalaenae in the British Museum. London: Printed by Order of the Trustees 1898-1919’ 

(public domain) 


edited: 24.09.2019