Cold Weather Not Slowing Down Black Cutworm Moths

Black cutworm moths are carried by winds in the spring to farm fields.
Black cutworm moths are carried by winds in the spring to farm fields.

The spring migratory flight of black cutworm moths remained impressive across the state and the Corn Belt through mid-April according to University of Illinois professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator Mike Gray.

Dale Baird, University of Illinois Extension, reported capturing 23 moths in his pheromone trap over a two-day period in northern Illinois, well above the intense capture threshold of nine or more moths over a one- to two-day time frame.

On April 15, Jim Morrison, a cooperator with the Insect Monitoring Program also reported capturing 11 moths in one of his northern Illinois traps.

“Corn plants in the one- to four-leaf stage remain susceptible to cutting, and producers should be monitoring their fields closely this spring for potential stand reductions,” Gray said.

Time spent scouting for signs of trouble could be time well spent this year.

Recently, some below-freezing temperatures settled in across much of central and northern Illinois, leading growers to hope that the cold would reduce the populations of black cutworms and other insects.

Unfortunately, insect pests are able to move to more protected areas (below ground burrows, beneath plant debris) and escape the freezing temperatures.

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