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Black Cutworm

In-Depth Downloads

Symptoms of Black Cutworm

corn plant damage by black cutworm
  • Small black cutworm larvae chew holes in leaves
  • Fourth stage or older larvae exceed the width of a dime in length and can begin cutting V1-V5 stage plants
  • Drilling into V6-V8 stage plants can kill growing point
  • Cutting mostly above ground in wet soil, mostly below ground in dry soil
fourth stage black cutworm
corn plant recovery
Recovery after being cut above the growing point (photo above)

Pest ID

black cutworm moth
  • Key black cutworm moth characteristics
    • Adult forewings with dagger-shaped marking and kidney-shaped spot
    • Larvae are black/gray and grow to 1 5/8 inches

Related Species

Sandhill cutworm
Sandhill cutworm (photo above)
Armyworm
Armyworm (photo above)
Glassy cutworm
Glassy cutworm (photo above)
Dingy cutworm
Dingy cutworm (photo above)
Bronzed cutworm
Bronzed cutworm (photo above)
Variegated cutworm
Variegated cutworm (photo above)
Black cutworm
Black cutworm (photo above)

Pest Facts and Impact on Crop

U.S. map where black cutworms are a concern
  • Latin name: Agrotis ipsilon
  • The black cutworm is the major cutworm of the Corn Belt - similar species are found worldwide
  • Black cutworms eat many plants, including corn, cotton, tobacco, vegetables, weeds and turf grasses

Life Cycle of Black Cutworm

annual life cycle of black cutworm

Management of Black Cutworm

  • Favorable conditions for pest occurrence would be spring storms prior to tillage and planting delivering moths to the area
    • Monitor moth flight reports
    • Kill existing vegetation nine or more days prior to planting to reduce larval survival
    • Natural enemies are generally birds and other predators, though they're not usually effective
  • IPM practices
    • Pheromone trapping is used to determine when the pest is present
    • Intensively scout fields that are at risk
    • Reduced tillage or other practices that leave a food source for the young larvae increase risk
    • Insecticide seed treatments at high rates may give some control, but lower rates are not as effective
    • Broadcast pesticide or bait application may be used as a rescue treatment
Management with Pioneer Products
Field comparison of Herculex® I and competitor Bt hybrid to control black cutworm
  • Transgenic control
    • Herculex® I and Herculex® XTRA hybrids provide very good control of black cutworm -- control of other species may vary
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