How to Manage Dingy Cutworms in Corn

FBN Network

Aug 17, 2023

Dingy cutworms, a type of caterpillar, can cause extensive damage to corn crops by feeding on the stems and leaves of young plants. Reducing yield and compromising quality, dingy cutworm presence in fields can lead to defoliation, stunting and potentially even plant death — but treating with a few commonly used insecticides intended for cutworm control in corn can help.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore:

  • How dingy cutworms affect corn 

  • How to identify dingy cutworms

  • The regions typically affected by dingy cutworms

  • The timing of dingy cutworm infestations

  • Chemical products to control dingy cutworm

How Do Dingy Cutworms Affect Corn?

Dingy cutworm feeding habits result in severe defoliation and stunting, disrupting the crucial process of photosynthesis and hindering the plant's ability to produce energy and vital nutrients. This negatively impacts the overall vigor of corn plants, leading to delayed growth and compromised ear development. 

[RELATED: ​​Here’s How You Can Manage Insects That Overwinter in Your Corn Fields]

Hanna Royals, Screening Aids, USDA APHIS PPQ,

How to Identify Dingy Cutworms

Dingy cutworms measure 1-1.5 inches in length when fully grown and have a dull gray or brown coloration. They have a smooth and shiny exterior, a distinct "C" shape when at rest, and a dark head capsule, which sets them apart from other pests. 

Regular field scouting can allow for timely action, helping to more proactively control these pests and protect the corn crop from damage. Several indicators can help farmers identify the presence of dingy cutworms in their corn fields, including: 

  • Cut or chewed leaves

  • Wilting or stunted plants

  • Presence of dingy cutworms, especially on lower leaves and stems

Regions Affected by Dingy Cutworms

Dingy cutworms are a persistent threat in corn-growing regions throughout North America, especially in areas with moderate to heavy rainfall like the Midwest and Great Plains. However, they can also pose a significant concern in other regions where corn is cultivated. 

Canadian National Collection, The Canadian National Collection (CNC) of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes,

Timing of Dingy Cutworm Infestations

Dingy cutworms pose a significant threat to corn crops during the early season, specifically from planting to the V6 growth stage. This critical period is when young corn plants are most vulnerable to the feeding damage caused by these pests. 

[RELATED: Mid-Season Insect Watch: Corn Rootworm Beetle]

Products to Manage Dingy Cutworms

When deciding whether to employ chemical products to control European corn borers, farmers should first assess the severity of the infestation and determine the economic threshold for treatment.

Once fields have reached a level of infestation at which chemical products are needed, there are a few commonly used insecticides intended for cutworm control in corn, including: 

Regular scouting, monitoring and timely intervention are key to minimizing damage caused by dingy cutworms and ensuring healthy and productive corn crops. 

Dingy Cutworm Crop Protection from FBN Direct®

Proactively scouting for and responding to pest presence in your fields will help reduce potential crop damage and improve yield. FBN Direct has a wide variety of effective insecticides to help address pest pressures and keep your operation on track. With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN Direct can help you get the products you need to protect your crops. 

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FBN Network

Aug 17, 2023