Get The Jump On Army Cutworms In Alfalfa And Wheat

Apr 02, 2020

Young Alfalfa Plants
Now is an important time to be scouting your wheat and alfalfa fields for pests. Reports of army cutworms have come from across Kansas and Nebraska.  The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska states “of the many cutworm species in Nebraska, the army cutworm is the most damaging in western Nebraska,” affecting both alfalfa and wheat.

In Nebraska, army cutworm larvae are becoming active after overwintering in the soil. The moths lay eggs in the fall and they hatch over time. The caterpillars are often seen first in the spring and often feed in the dark at night. During the day they take shelter and when the weather turns cold. As temperatures warm up, around 45F, army cutworms will begin to emerge, feed, and increase in size.

To scout for army cutworm, turn over clots of loose soil for cutworm counts. Sampling should be completed before an insecticide treatment. Treatment threshold is four or more cutworm larvae per square foot of winter wheat or alfalfa. For stressed, thin stands of wheat or newly established alfalfa stands, use a threshold of two or more larvae per square foot. New or stressed stands of alfalfa require lower threshold because they are more prone to damage.

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