Iowa's Black Cutworm Monitoring Program Needs Your Help

Iowa's Black Cutworm Monitoring Program Needs Your Help

ISU Integrated Pest Management specialists are looking for volunteers to help scout for cutworm moths this spring.

Iowa State University's Integrated Pest Management program is looking for volunteers to help scout for cutworm moths this spring.

Black cutworm moths are blown into Iowa each spring, riding on storms coming up from the south. The moths lay eggs in crop fields, the eggs hatch and the emerging black cutworm larvae cut the seedling corn. However, black cutworms are sporadic pests and scouting is essential to determine if management is necessary.

CUTWORMS ON CORN: Iowa State University Extension coordinates a monitoring program to keep tabs on black cutworm moths flying into the state each spring.

To make scouting easier, the Integrated Pest Management or IPM program at Iowa State University coordinates an annual monitoring network that uses moth traps to capture moths when they fly into the state. Those moth counts, along with temperature data, are used by ISU entomologists to estimate when farmers are most likely to see cutworm larvae appear in their fields.

Figure 1: Seedling cornfield with cutworm damage. Photo courtesy Jon Kiel

Figure 2: Black cutworm larva. Photo courtesy Jon Kiel

"The power in this program is from all the volunteers who place traps and check them for cutworm moths," says Adam Sisson, an ISU Extension IPM specialist. "This is why we are asking farmers, agribusiness and others to help out. The more data we have from across the state the better the scouting estimates we can produce."

Basically, cooperators will be sent a cutworm trap that they put together and then use to monitor cutworm moth flights every other day. Cooperators record the number of moths and post this data at the North Central Integrated Pest Management website at least once per week. Black cutworm monitoring starts the last week of March and stops around the beginning of June.

If you want to volunteer, let ISU know by March 15
To become a cutworm cooperator, send an e-mail to [email protected] with your contact information. Please let us know by March 15 to allow enough time for shipping.

"This year we also have a unique opportunity for folks planting non-Bt corn or non-Bt corn with a rye cover crop," says Sisson. Mike Dunbar, a research entomologist at ISU, is looking for farmers planting non-Bt corn in 2014 who would be willing to let him scout their cornfields for black cutworm and armyworm.

Fields would be scouted weekly from early April through the end of May using pheromone traps and visual counts of insects. Any relevant information about pest insects will be conveyed to the farmers. An acceptable field could be just a block or structured refuge of non-Bt corn. He is also looking to scout non-Bt corn in 2014 with a rye cover crop in that same field.

Contact Mike Dunbar at [email protected] or 443-362-0875 if you are interested in participating or have any questions about the non-Bt and rye cover crop field scouting opportunity.

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