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Stay On Black Cutworm Alert This Spring

Stay On Black Cutworm Alert This Spring
More green fields means moths may find good spots to lay eggs.

Some people knocked down weeds early or sprayed in parts of the state. Others didn't. There are still plenty of green fields out there, and if it stays or turns wet, they may stay that way a while. Why does this matter? Green fields in the spring covered with annual weeds or other cover are one of the factors that draw in black cutworm moths to a field. If the moths lay eggs, the larvae hatch in time to cut plants and damage or riddle stands if proper protection isn't available

Stay On Black Cutworm Alert This Spring

The moths must ride up on storm tracks form the Gulf State where they overwinter. The more storm tracks that flow into Indiana from the south, the higher the likelihood that significant numbers of moths will arrive here. However, it's a spotty pest, rarely attacking even a whole field.

If you're planting Herculex with control against black cutworm or corn with the AgriSure Viptera trait, then black cutworm control shouldn't be an issue. Otherwise, you may want to consider options, including laying down a soil insecticide at planting, or scouting and being ready with rescue treatments.

Dan Ritter, Extension ag educator in Newton County, says the best way to get a handle on whether you can expect a problem or not is to follow moth trap reports collected by Purdue University ent0omologists. Do that by subscribing to the Purdue Pest Newsletter, issues weekly. The link is: Ritter is also a member of the Indiana Certified Crop Advisers Association.

"Each year Purdue Extension entomologists organize crop professionals to place phermone traps throughout the state," Ritter explains. "These traps are used to capture moths and monitor for intense captures.

"Based on when these larger number of moths are collected and heat units have accumulated through early Spring, entomologists can predict when to scout for black cutworms. Scout fields that have more green vegetation cover first. Moths are attracted to these areas to lay their eggs. So these areas will (likely) have the heaviest infestations."

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