Many dutiful trapping cooperators throughout Indiana captured black cutworm moths this past week. This recent flush of moths is attributed to storms from the southwestern portions of the country.

Moth arrival, along with the use of heat units to predict the beginning of larval activity, gives us an indication of the potential severity of the problem and locations of concern. Thus, we are able to predict with some degree of accuracy when and where crop damage is most likely to occur based on this information. Refer to future issues of the Pest&Crop as we track heat unit accumulations and predicted damage in your area.

Here’s a question we are often asked: Should one treat for black cutworm before or at planting?

Because of the sporadic outbreak nature of this pest, the tried, true, and economic approach to black cutworm management is to scout fields, determine infestation and damage levels, and use a rescue treatment, if needed. Foliar insecticides are effective, especially when applied early (i.e. while cutworms are small and not yet “cutting”).

Producers using insecticide-treated seed may have a false sense of security concerning black cutworm control. The systemic activity of these insecticides during the seedling stage should help suppress small larvae feeding on plants. However, this protection is short-lived, Fields attracting egg-laying moths during multiple flights will likely experience significant damage and stand losses.