Menu

Black Cutworm Moth Captures Reported in Several Midwestern States

Although no intense flights (nine or more moths caught over a two-day period) of black cutworm moths have been reported, captures of this species have been common in several Illinois counties and states, said a University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

Mike Gray said that impressive flights of black cutworm and armyworm moths have been reported by Doug Johnson an Extension Entomologist at the University of Kentucky. Entomologists at Purdue University also have received reports that black cutworm moth captures are now common in many areas of Indiana.

He added that Kelly Estes, agricultural pest survey coordinator with the Illinois Natural History Survey, has established a network of trapping cooperators across Illinois. Over the past two weeks, captures have been reported in the following Illinois counties: Champaign, Fayette, Logan, Lee, Macon, Macoupin, and Madison.

“This distribution of captures suggests that black cutworm moth flights have likely taken place throughout Illinois and growers are encouraged to remain vigilant for early signs of leaf feeding when corn seedlings begin to emerge,” Gray said. “Today (April 21) strong winds from the south are undoubtedly bringing many black cutworm moths into Illinois, and weedy fields will be prime targets for egg laying by this species.”

For more complete information about the biology, life cycle, and management of black cutworms and armyworms, fact sheets are available from the U of I Department of Crop Sciences.

Gray provided some key life cycle and management facts concerning black cutworms.

  • Black cutworm moths are strong migratory insects with northward flights commonly observed from the Gulf States into the Midwest from March through May.
  • Moths are attracted to fields heavily infested with weeds such as chickweed, shepherd’s purse, peppergrass, and yellow rocket.
  • Late tillage and planting tends to increase the susceptibility of fields to black cutworm infestations.
  • Cutting of corn plants begins when larvae reach the 4th instar, with a single cutworm cutting an average of three to four plants during its larval development.
  • Cutting tends to occur most often during nights or on dark overcast days.
  • Fields at greatest risk to cutting and economic damage are in the 1-to-4 leaf stage of plant development.
  • An early warning sign of potential economic damage includes small pinhole feeding injury in leaves (caused by the first three instars).
  • A nominal threshold of 3 percent cutting of plants has traditionally been used as a point at which growers should consider a rescue treatment.
  • Not all Bt hybrids offer adequate protection against black cutworm damage. Growers should consult the Handy Bt trait table prepared by Dr. Chris DiFonzo at Michigan State University to determine the level of protection provided by their chosen Bt hybrid.

“As the season progresses, if you learn of significant black cutworm infestations, please let me know and I will share this information with the readers of the Bulletin,” Gray added.

Source: Michael Gray and Stephanie Henry, University of Illinois 

Recent News

Researchers Fortify Queen of the Forages with Disease Defense
12/13/2019

Alfalfa is often called the “Queen of the Forages” due to its high yield, feed quality for ruminant animals, nitrogen fixation and pollinator habitat among other environmental services. But this royal member of the legume family is no match against the host of microbes that cause the disease complex known as “crown rot.” Chemical controls […]

Stretch Limited Hay Supplies
12/12/2019

Although growing conditions for hay production were favorable throughout much of North Dakota this year, challenges associated with harvest and transport have left many livestock producers facing a shortage of hay. North Dakota State University Extension agents from across the state have reported that 10% to 30% of this year’s forage crop is unavailable (that […]

USMCA on Course for Ratification in 2020
12/11/2019

Natalie Andrews, William Mauldin and Anthony Harrup reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “A new U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada gained backing from House Democrats, setting the agreement on course for likely ratification by Congress in 2020 and marking a victory for President Trump after months of negotiations to modify it. “Mr. Trump ran for office in 2016 […]

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now