A lot of people throughout the Midwest have reported captures of armyworm and black cutworm moths all spring. Always remember that although these captures offer some insight about the timing of moth flights, large captures do not always relate to outbreaks of the respective larvae. Many factors can cause mortality to eggs and young larvae of both armyworms and black cutworms, so infestations often don't materialize, even if large numbers of adults have been captured. That having been said, stay alert for both insects. Both are capable of causing serious damage rather quickly.|
The folks at the Missouri Delta Research Center reported an enormous capture of armyworm moths (1,093) in Mississippi County (the "bootheel") on April 24. Entomologists at Purdue University reported a capture of 280 moths in a blacklight trap operating in north-central Indiana between April 16 and 22. Fewer armyworm moths have been captured in pheromone traps in southern Illinois, but we are still watching them closely (see "The Hines Report," http://ipm.uiuc.edu/publications/hines-report).
Dale Burmester, crop specialist with Gateway FS in Redbud, has found evidence of a little feeding activity by small armyworm larvae in wheat. Ron Hines, senior research specialist at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, has found small armyworm larvae in grass hay fields in Massac, Pope, and Pulaski counties. These early reports of small larvae should be noted. Although it's unlikely that we will experience an outbreak similar to the outbreak in 2001, it never hurts to be prepared.
Intense captures of black cutworms have been reported from many locations. But quite honestly, predicting the dates of first cutting activity (300 accumulated degree-days after an intense capture) makes little sense right now. Any corn that has emerged should be monitored carefully now for black cutworms and signs of their injury. The same will hold true for corn that will be planted soon. Remember, the potential for black cutworm damage increases significantly when corn is planted late, after the moths have had time to find egg-laying sites.--Kevin Steffey