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Black cutworm migration and risk in 2019

Bruce Potter, Integrated pest management specialist

Figure 1. Black cutworms and damage to soybean.
The black cutworm can be a significant pest of corn, sugarbeets and other crops. Because they cannot survive our Minnesota winters, the risk of economic crop loss depends on how many moths arrive and when they arrive with respect to crop development.

In some areas of Minnesota, planned fall tillage that did not happen and the later start to 2019 spring fieldwork both increase the proportion of fields that are attractive egg-laying sites for early-arriving migrant moths. Additionally, more corn acres are expected to be planted to hybrids susceptible to black cutworm damage.

To help predict risk of economic damage and help time scouting efforts, the UMN Cooperative Black Cutworm Trapping Network is once again operating during 2019. Each day, cooperators check their pheromone traps to look for moths that have migrated into the state. The timing of arrivals of large numbers of moths is used to predict when, and to a limited extent where, risk of damaging populations of black cutworm larvae is greater.

These data from cooperators’ pheromone traps are used to produce weekly updates and alerts for black cutworm risk. 2019 Black Cutworm Report #1 , and 2019 Black Cutworm Report #2 are currently available, and future and past information can be found at the UMN Cooperative Black Cutworm Trapping Network. Will 2019 see an unusual amount of damage from this insect in Minnesota? Stay tuned.

For more information on black cutworm biology and management see: Black cutworm facts.
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