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Corn Cutworms Appear Across Midwest and Plains

May 28, 2020
This agronomic image shows black cutworm

Black corn cutworms (BCW) have been spotted in fields in NE and IN after moth flights arrived in both states from further south. Heavy infestations of BCW can devastate corn stand, and without proper scouting growers may not realize they have an infestation until the damage is visible.

Black cutworms can appear in any corn field, but moths prefer to lay eggs in no-till fields with overwintering weeds or cover crops. In this period of heavy rains, growers may need to keep a more watchful eye on their fields to keep track of weed growth that can give BCW shelter.

To scout for BCW, look for signs of leaf feeding or cutting in at least 5 different areas every 25 acres, starting in fields that experienced heavy green growth in the last couple months. The larvae tend to follow soil moisture, and as an area dries out, they will burrow underground to feed on corn. To scout for live larvae, examine fields in the early morning or evening, as BCW tend to be more active at night.

A variety of factors can influence the best time to make a foliar insecticide application. Both Purdue University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have management guidelines available for growers. The University of Iowa also has a calculator to help growers determine when to make applications.

To control BCW and other insect pests in corn, we recommend Warrior II with Zeon Technology® insecticide, which delivers reliable performance, modern formulation technology and long residual control. Zeon Technology, a patented quick-release, micro-encapsulated formulation with a powerful UV blocker, ensures fast knockdown and residual control of the most damaging insects, including black cutworm. Our Black Cutworm Technical Recommendation sheet provides additional information.

For help identifying the right weed management plan to keep BCW egg lay out of your fields, contact your local Syngenta sales representative.

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