Tue July 10, 2012
Cutworm moths out in larger numbers this year
A familiar Wisconsin pest is showing up in surprisingly large numbers this year. Variegated cutworm moths love garden plants and crops. They usually show up sporadically in Wisconsin. This year, they came out in much bigger numbers, and have caused a lot more damage than usual. UW Madison entomologist Phil Pellaterri says there have been populations reported from La Crosse to Stevens Point, and up to Northern Wisconsin and elsewhere. "We get a little trickle of verigateds all the time, I will say in my 35 years running the lab, I have not seen these kind of populations," he says.
As to what caused the population boom, the early spring weather might have helped. Scientists also say they could have been carried into the state by the wind.
Fond Du Lac County is one of the hardest hit. Mike Harkin is an Extension agriculture agent there. He says the variegated cutworm moths are especially prevalent in alfalfa fields. "At least in our area, I think a large number of fields alfalfa fields its not hard to find at least some in every field, then its just a matter of degree."
Large numbers of variegated cutworm moths have popped up for the first time in Ashland and Bayfield Counties. Extension agent Jason Fischbach says he’s getting several calls a day from area residents wondering what they are, and what to do with them. According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, a second generation could pop up later this summer.