At this time of the year, some moths (order Lepidoptera), such as black cutworms, fly into Illinois from destinations farther south. Because of the potential for black cutworms to cause significant economic damage, we focus a lot of attention on that species. But we don't have to think back very far to recall the outbreak of armyworms that occurred in 2001. Like black cutworm moths, armyworm moths also fly from the southern United States into Illinois in the spring, arriving at about the same time as black cutworms arrive. In fact, Ron Hines, senior research specialist at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, has already captured a few armyworm moths in traps in Pope and Pulaski counties this spring. Refer to the "Hines Report"
Ron and other observers also monitor flights of other important Lepidoptera adults, such as corn earworm, European corn borer, fall armyworm, and southwestern corn borer. In the past, we also have reported captures of beetles (order Coleoptera) such as western corn rootworm and Japanese beetles in different types of traps. Trapping insects is an excellent way to get relative information about insect abundance from year to year and from area to area, as well as an excellent way to project insect development and the occurrence of feeding injury. Consequently, we try to report as much trap-capture information as we can. Keep in mind, however, that reports of captured insects do not necessarily translate into projections of crop damage. With few exceptions (for example, western corn rootworms on yellow sticky traps), densities of insects captured in traps often have not been correlated with amounts of injury. So use the information about trap-captured insects with good judgment.--Kevin Steffey