Mark Lawson hardly lives in the heart of where western bean cutworm problems have flared up in Indiana. Located near Danville in Hendricks County, the Syngenta agronomist is smack dab in the middle of central Indiana. Until last year, western bean cutworm in Indiana was confined to a couple of counties in northwest Indiana with sandy soils. Last year it was detected in 17 counties across the northern one-third of Indiana.
This year, Lawson found moths on his farm in plots he maintains for company purposes. He religiously scouts for various insects, including fall armyworm, black cutworm, and western bean cutworm. He traps moths to use that information to know when to look for insects to emerge as larvae.
"I trap in two locations, and sometimes I would find them at one location and not the other," he notes. "The locations are only a mile or so apart."
Heavy moth counts were also observed in northern Indiana by Purdue Extension entomologists this year. However, Lawson's finding means the insect may be moving south as well as just to the east. Lawson is also an Indiana Certified Crop Adviser.
Based on what he's learned from other sources, western bean cutworm typically show up in a region as a few moths one year, then more the next. Within three to four years, the pest often becomes a significant problem. A few moths were found in his area last year, he notes, so this is the second year moths have been detected in central Indiana. While nothing is ever guaranteed with insects, it could mean that even farmers in central Indiana counties will have to worry about the destructive pest in coming years.
Syngenta is scheduled to release hybrids with its new Agrisure Viptera trait next spring. Coupled with the corn borer BT trait, and the rootworm trait, it gives protection against western bean cutworm, plus cutworm, fall armyworm and earworm, plus most stalk borers.
Herculex, already on the market in Pioneer and Mycogen brands, offers control against western bean cutworm larvae as well. Since it's also included in SmartStax, those hybrids have western bean cutworm protection as well. SmartStax were produced through a joint project between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences.
The Agrisure Viptera trait from Syngenta, already approved by regulatory agencies, will bring the strongest control against many corn insects, except corn borer and rootworm, next year. Syngenta hybrids pick up control against those two insects by combining the Viptera triats with Bt corn borer and Bt rootworm traits in hybrids.