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Issue No. 4, Article 2/April 16, 2004

Little Activity from Black Cutworms

Reports of black cutworm moth flights were few and far between this past week. In fact, the only locations reporting significant flights of black cutworm moths were in southern Illinois. Ron Hines, research specialist at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, reported significant moth flights in Pulaski, Pope, and St. Clair counties, with St. Clair County getting hit hard. Ron also noted in an e-mail this week that corn is beginning to emerge in the area, and with expected warm temperatures for the remainder of the week, cutworm feeding could be significant.

As corn planting begins to coincide with moth flights, it's important to scout fields that are especially attractive for egg laying. Fields or areas of fields in which early-season weeds were growing at the time moths flew into the area are at a higher risk than weed-free fields. If tillage or herbicides eliminate weeds 1 to 2 weeks before planting, any black cutworms that had been present probably starve to death. The presence of weeds only a few days before planting increases the likelihood of cutworm damage if larvae are present in the field. Begin watching emerging seedlings carefully for early signs of cutworm feeding (pinholes in the leaves) and for plants that have been cut off by larger larvae. View the black cutworm fact sheet for more information on black cutworm injury.

The warm temperatures and southerly winds could bring cutworm moths to the rest of the state in the near future, too. Keep updated on moth flights in your area with the Insect Monitoring Network. Each week, moth flights are reported by volunteers around the state and posted on the Web. For now, keep your eyes peeled for feeding in emerging corn fields.--Kelly Cook

Kelly Estes

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