University of Illinois

No. 3/April 10, 1998

Reports of Black Cutworm Moths Continue

Black cutworm moth captures continue to be commonly reported by many cooperators. Bill Craig, a consultant in southwestern Illinois, indicated that moth captures occurred on a regular basis in Macoupin County during the monitoring period of March 28 to April 4. Jim Morrison, crop systems Educator with the Freeport Extension Center, also reported the capture of a black cutworm moth as far north as Freeport during the weekend of April 4 and 5. Dave Feltes, IPM educator with the Quad Cities Extension Center, reported a very impressive capture of moths in his pheromone trap on April 7. We appreciate hearing reports like this, so please call us or send e-mail messages with your observations.

Some folks have asked for more specific information on trapping protocols. In other words, are there any recommended procedures for using pheromone traps to capture black cutworm moths? The following guidelines should be of some help.

Checking a black cutworm pheromone trap.

Black cutworm moth.

Instructions for Using
Black Cutworm Pheromone Traps

  1. Place the trap about 6 feet above the ground. The trap should be located in the country, rather than in town. Avoid hanging traps near night lights.

  2. Place the pheromone lure (septum) on the trap bottom. The sticky material will hold the septum in place.

  3. Change the lure and sticky bottom of the trap every 2 weeks. Store the pheromone lures in a refrigerator. Cold storage is essential to maintain the attractiveness of the lures.

  4. The top of the trap need be replaced only if it becomes severely damaged during storms.

  5. The captured moths should be removed from the sticky surface of the traps daily. Black cutworm moths apparently don't like to visit their captured colleagues. Black cutworm moths can be separated from other moths by the presence of a black "dagger" pattern of scales on each of the forewings.

  6. Daily observances of traps allow you to pinpoint when an intense flight has occurred (nine or more moths captured during a 1- to 2-day period).

In an upcoming issue of this Bulletin, we will offer some projected cutting dates for black cutworms. Those cornfields most at risk include late-planted and weedy fields infested with winter annual weeds. Also, once cornfields move beyond the 4-leaf stage of plant development, they are at less risk to economic injury. Again, let us know how your trapping efforts are progressing.
Mike Gray (, Extension Entomology, (217)333-6652