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Serving: IN

Black Cutworm Moths Already In Indiana

Black Cutworm Moths Already In Indiana
Traps catch moths and indicate that they are in the state.

Mark Lawson does things a bit differently on his farm northwest of Danville in Hendricks County. Since he's also a technical agronomist for Syngenta, he traps for various pests and puts out all kinds of test plots. So far this spring he has put out bait traps for wireworms, and put out traps for black cutworm moths.

Cut plants: Here's a black cutworm larva and a plant it cut. Photo courtesy of John Obermeyer, Purdue University Extension entomologist.

There is also an extensive network of trapping for black cutworm moths that feeds into a database maintained by Purdue University entomologists. Trapping for moths is important because the black cutworm insect doesn't over winter in Indiana. The temperatures are too harsh on average for it to survive. Instead, moths must ride air currents northward from the Gulf of Mexico and find a home in Indiana to start a black cutworm situation each year.

Lawson had not found any wireworms in his bait traps as of a few days ago. However, he did catch his first black cutworm moths in traps at three locations within his township within the past week.

Just because moths show up doesn't mean that there will be economic infestations later. Some of it depends on weather conditions when the moths fly and lay eggs. It will also depend on how many more moths come into Indiana from the Gulf. Obviously the ones that Lawson found last week rode up on storm fronts that brought rain about 10 days ago.

It's not just no-till fields that are attractive to moths when they lay eggs. Any fields with green growth can attract the moths. Several fields, primarily soybean fields, which weren't disturbed last fall are covered with low-growing winter annuals already this spring. Many people have not been able to till yet or apply burndown applications if the field is going to be no-tilled. Those fields could be prime targets for cutworms to lay eggs which will hatch as larvae as corn begins to germinate.

What Lawson's finding does mean is that it will be important to scout for cutworms once corn is panted and emerges.

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