Black Cutworm and Armyworm Moths Active, Regardless of Harsh Spring Conditions

Storm systems from the Southwestern portions of the country have brought more than rain showers. Many of our pheromone trap cooperators captured black cutworm moths over the last week…though numbers are relatively low. Most surprising was the number of armyworm moths captured in East Central Indiana at the Purdue Davis Ag Research Center. It is as though these insects are trying to will Spring upon us!

Soon fields will be alive with the winter-annual hosts for black cutworm egg laying.

Soon fields will be alive with the winter-annual hosts for black cutworm egg laying.

How do they do it? It continues to amaze me, because insects in general are inactive when temperatures dip below 500F. These moths, somehow, have the ability to sustain flight during these continual frigid nights in search of a mate. Remember, these are all male moths being captured in pheromone traps, as the volatile released mimics a calling female. Low captures, here and there, can be explained away with a “unique micro environment,” or such. However, over 250 moths, indicates how strong these urges are and why these insects are a perennial pest!

Bottom line…other than biologically fascinating, at least to me, with slow (or mostly NO) crop development, these early moths probably mean very little. Flying in these cold conditions is one thing, but successful mating and subsequent egg deposition on a host plant is very unlikely. Fortunately, our network of trap cooperators will provide us continual moth arrival and densities for weeks to come!

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