Several species of cutworms damage field corn in Tennessee, with the black cutworm being most common. Cutworm damage is most frequently found during cool, wet seasons when corn is following legume cover crops or in reduced tillage systems. Moths lay eggs on winter weeds in early spring and cutworms move to emerging corn once this vegetation has been killed. Cutworms are less likely to cause economic damage after corn reaches two feet in height.

Sampling: Check twice weekly for cutworms and other pests of seedling corn. Walk in a zigzag pattern through the field, checking at least 10 places in the field. Count the number of damaged plants in 10 feet of row. Check at least 100 plants. Plants less than 12 inches tall are most susceptible to injury.

Treatment Thresholds: Treat when larvae are present and 5% or more of plants are damaged or when two larvae per 100 plants are present.


Management options

Insecticide (Trade Names) for CUTWORMSLb Active Ingredient per AcreAmount Formulation per AcrePerformance Rating
bifenthrin (Brigade 2E, Discipline 2E, Fanfare 2E)0.033 - 0.102.1 - 6.4 oz8
carbaryl (Sevin XLR Plus 4)264 oz5
esfenvalerate (Asana XL 0.66E)0.03 - 0.055.8 - 9.6 oz8
permethrin (Pounce 3.2E)0.1 - 0.24 - 8 oz8
β-cyfluthrin (Baythroid XL 1)0.006 - 0.01250.8 - 1.6 oz8
γ-cyhalothrin (Declare 1.25)0.008 - 0.01250.77 - 1.28 oz8
λ-cyhalothrin (Warrior II)0.016 - 0.0260.96 - 1.6 oz8
Z-cypermethrin (Mustang Maxx 0.8E)0.008 - 0.01751.28 - 2.8 oz8

  • Burndown with herbicides well in advance of planting (3-4 weeks) can reduce the risks of infestation.
  • Certain Bt corn technologies provide some protection against cutworms.