Field Corn Cutworm

Bill Cissel, Extension Agent – Integrated Pest Management;

Scout seedling corn for cutworm damage, even if an at-planting insecticide application has been made. Fields at greatest risk include no-till, late planted, poorly drained fields, and fields with heavy weed growth before planting.  Fields should be scouted from spike through 5 leaf stage by examining 10 plants in 10 random locations for the presence of cut plants and or leaf feeding (small, irregular holes from larvae too small to cut plants). To confirm the damage is from cutworms, you should also look for live cutworms in the soil around the base of the plants. A rescue treatment should be considered in 1-2 leaf stage corn if you find 3% or more of the plants with leaf feeding injury and or cut plants. Once the corn reaches the 2-4 leaf stage, a rescue treatment is recommended when 5 % or more of the plants are cut and larvae are present.  For chemical control options, refer to our Field Corn Insecticide Recommendations: