No. 2 Article 4/April 3, 2009

Black Cutworm Moth Captures Reported in Illinois

The recent weather systems that dumped rain and snow in Illinois and elsewhere in the Midwest also dumped a few familiar insect pests that are annual migrants from the southern states. A handful of University of Illinois Extension personnel had erected black cutworm pheromone traps in anticipation of their arrival, and captures already have been reported.

On March 24, Mike Roegge, extension unit educator in Adams County, found two black cutworm moths in his trap. On the same day, Dave Feltes, extension IPM educator in Morrison, found three black cutworm moths in his trap in Whiteside County. Doug Gucker, Piatt County Extension Unit, reported that his initial capture of black cutworm moths also occurred on March 25. And continuing with captures of moths over several dates, Dave Feltes discovered three more moths on March 25, one moth on March 27, and two moths on March 31. In the overall scheme of things, these early captures may not mean a whole lot (yet) with respect to insect management concerns for 2009, but their arrival certainly deserves notice.

Over the next several weeks, these strong migratory moths will make their way into the north-central region of the U.S., the females seeking suitable egg-laying sites. Although the use of Bt corn hybrids, insecticidal seed treatments, and soil insecticides has made black cutworms less of an economic threat over the past several years, this pest's presence before corn planting suggests that a review of black cutworm identification, biology, and injury may be in order. For a full review of the life cycle of this insect and some management tips, please visit www.ipm.uiuc.edu/fieldcrops/insects/black_cutworm.

A reminder: Fields with the greatest risk of black cutworm injury this spring include first-year corn fields infested with common chickweed and other winter annuals, especially where conservation tillage (including no-till) has been practiced.--Mike Gray and Kevin Steffey

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