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2021 Iowa Moth Trapping Network Update: Week 1

The 2021 moth trapping season is underway, and our volunteers placed traps the week of March 28. Black cutworm (BCW) monitoring is a long-standing project in Iowa, and true armyworm (TAW) was added in 2017. Both of these pests are migratory, making it difficult to predict where populations will establish year to year. Top left:

The 2021 moth trapping season is underway, and our volunteers placed traps the week of March 28. Black cutworm (BCW) monitoring is a long-standing project in Iowa, and true armyworm (TAW) was added in 2017. Both of these pests are migratory, making it difficult to predict where populations will establish year to year.

black cutworm and true armyworm
Top left: black cutworm moth. Bottom left: black cutworm larvae. Top right: true armyworm moth. Bottom right: true armyworm larvae.

Because populations are unpredictable, we ask for volunteers around Iowa to set up traps to monitor BCW and TAW flights in Iowa. This year, 32 volunteers established 35 BCW and 34 TAW traps in 31 counties. Volunteers assemble a wing-style trap baited with a pheromone lure for each species. Female moths release pheromones to attract males for mating, and a synthetic version of the pheromones are used for the lures in our traps. Unsuspecting males fly into the trap and are caught in the sticky substance at the bottom.

true armyworm moths in sticky wing trap
True armyworm moths (and other insects!) caught in a wing-style pheromone trap. 

These efforts allow us to refine pest movement into the state and estimate scouting and treatment windows for farmers based on intensive flights of BCW. An intensive flight of BCW occurs when 8 or more moths are captured in a pheromone trap over two nights. No such threshold exists for TAW, but monitoring allows us to inform farmers in the area and support scouting activities. Since these pests are erratic, the best way to know if BCW or TAW are causing damage to the crop is to scout your fields.

Week 1 report:

The first positive record of moth activity in Iowa occurred on March 29 in Boone County, where 3 TAW moths were reported. The next report occurred on April 3, when 5 BCW moths were recorded in a Taylor County trap. These were the only two positive records during the first week of moth trapping. No significant flights occurred for BCW during Week 1. Counties with reports are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

TAW reports March to April 3
Figure 1. True armyworm moth captures from March 21 to April 3. The total moth count for the time period is noted on the map for each county; highlighted counties without numbers indicate that traps are placed but no reports have been received. Data is current as of April 7, 2021.

BCW reports March to April 3
Figure 2. Black cutworm moth captures from March 21 to April 3. The total moth count for the time period is noted on the map for each county; highlighted counties without numbers indicate that traps are placed but no reports have been received. Data is current as of April 7, 2021.

We will continue to post weekly updates throughout the trapping season (April and May). Surrounding states also monitor and report BCW and TAW captures. If you live near the state border, it may be beneficial to check these resources periodically. More resources may be available than what is listed here:

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