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Northern Illinois Agriculture

University of Illinois Extension
Black cutworm

Black cutworms at NIARC

Posted by Russel Higgins - Corn

The Black cutworm pheromone trap at the NIARC was set on Thursday April 5th. We consider 9 cutworms caught over a two day period to be a significant catch. Our count on this Monday after Easter was 18!
There are here! Once our planted corn emerges we should be scouting weekly for cutworm damage. Last Thursday Dr. Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist issued a news release sharing the abundance of Black cutworm moths across Illinois including the northern counties. Dr. Grays article can be read in its entirety here;
Black cutworms are migratory moths that do not typically overwinter in Illinois. Most early season adult moths migrate into Illinois as early as March.  The moths are carried north on seasonal spring storm fronts. Moth flights are generally heaviest in April and May. Females often deposit eggs singly or in groups in low areas or weedy fields.
Dr Gray shared the following comment "Fields most at risk from black cutworm injury include those heavily infested with winter annual weeds. Favorite targets for egg-laying black cutworm moths include mouse-eared chickweed, bitter cress, shepherd's purse, yellow rocket, and pepper grass."
The potential injury from Black cutworm larva is their ability to "cut" the corn seedling during the feeding process. Corn is most susceptible when it is under 15" in height.

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