Storms From The Southwest Are Depositing Black Cutworm Moths

For the last couple of weeks, storms originating in the Southwestern U.S. have effectively “vacuumed up” black cutworm (BCW) moths and deposited them, along with rainfall, in the Midwest. The first recorded moth capture was March 20, but many followed with subsequent storm fronts. This is an annual event, although the timing varies. We replenish our BCW numbers annually; they cannot overwinter in Indiana and are not cold hardy.

Often, we will receive freezing temperatures following these early spring flushes. Many BCW that have arrived in mid or late March often likely perish during these cold spells. But they will keep filtering in over the coming weeks, and there are certain to be sufficient moths to lay eggs in the many winter-annual weeds (particularly broad-leaf weeds, chickweed is a favorite) and broad-leaved cover crops.

In the near future, we will publish color-coded maps with BCW anticipated development to help you time your scouting trips. As a reminder, the cutworm threat will be greatest when there is a “green bridge” for them – shifting from weeds and/or cover crops to seedling corn as it emerges. We recognize that this is often (usually) unavoidable, but still worth mentioning. BCW larvae cannot go long without feeding, so a period with no host plant material will often mean death by starvation.

The following NOAA outlook map, issued on April 2, 2024, graphically shows the origins in the Gulf States and fanning out through the Midwest:


NOAA Outlook map issues on April 2 2024

NOAA Outlook map issues on April 2 2024


Black “daggers” used for identification of the black cutworm moth

Black “daggers” used for identification of the black cutworm moth. (Photo Credit: John Obermeyer)

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Pest&Crop newsletter - Department of Entomology Purdue University 901 Mitch Daniels Blvd West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2024 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Pest&Crop newsletter

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Pest&Crop newsletter at