Spring storms ripping through the Eastern Corn Belt may have carried with them more than just excessive precipitation and damaging winds, says Christian Krupke, Purdue University Extension entomologist.
"It seems as though the extreme storms that have moved through the Midwest in the last month have brought us an abundance of armyworm and black cutworm moths from the southwestern United States," Krupke says. "What this means to our crops will unfold in the next several weeks."
For the past few weeks, armyworm pheromone traps monitored by the University of Kentucky have captured large numbers of moths, Krupke says.
"Our black light trapping at the Purdue Agricultural Research Centers, which began last week, doesn't have us nearly as excited," he says. "If 2001 is our guide to determine a major armyworm outbreak, the next several weeks of black light catches will be important to watch."
In 2001, waves of armyworm moths swept across Indiana. A May egg hatch led to an armyworm infestation not seen since the 1950s. Larvae's appetites left some cropfields and pastures so badly damaged that no green vegetation remained.
Hay, corn and small grains producers should keep a close eye on their fields and be prepared should an armyworm outbreak occur, Krupke says.
In addition to the armyworm moths, black cutworm moths are being caught in pheromone traps across Indiana.
"There have been a few intensive captures of nine or more moths captured in two consecutive nights, which has signaled the beginning of heat unit accumulations to predict the beginning of cutting," Krupke says. "The unexplained phenomenon this past week has been Purdue entomologist John Obermeyer's trap in Tippecanoe County. The moth capture for the week was 129, with five nights of over 20. This is very high."