Western Bean Cutworm trapping network expands

Western Bean Cutworm Trap Network includes more pests, larger geographic coverage and new name

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The growing success of the Western Bean Cutworm Trap Network, and issues with other corn pests across Eastern Canada, led to the expansion and renaming of the network, now known as the Great Lakes and Maritimes Pest Monitoring Network.

Why it matters: The trap network enables OMAFRA and participants to monitor peak flight timing of corn pests, helping growers and scouts identify timing of egg laying and monitor thresholds.

The trap network began back in 2010.

Chris Difonzo from Michigan State University and Tracey Baute, OMAFRA entomologist, began putting up traps in 2006 and 20007 to detect the arrival of western bean cutworms (WBC.)

Baute began to coordinate more traps across the province, and into Quebec.

By 2010, she started the WBC Trap Network, including more than 600 trap sites each year for the past three or four years.

Tracey Baute.
photo: Tracey Baute

“It was only successful because of the trap data that came in from all the trap participants, including the lead corn entomologists from Ontario, Quebec and Michigan, as well as the corn company agronomists, certified crop consultants and growers who monitored their traps too,” says Baute.

The network received funding from Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Bean Growers’ Association to put out the traps, and years following it became a project.

“It worked so well we kind of just kept it going regardless of funding because we felt there were enough companies, agronomists and growers themselves to put up the traps, monitor them and provide the data,” says Baute.

The network began with Quebec, Ontario and Michigan, Ohio, New York and all the maritime provinces being the recent additions. Invitations have been extended to the U.S. eastern states Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

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Other corn pests were added to the program after the corn earworm caused extensive damage across Ontario in 2018. Bt resistance in European corn borer, found in Nova Scotia, led to its inclusion.

“We have added five different corn pests as a starting block. If there’s an opportunity we may look at adding more pests or more crops to strengthen our coordination and detection abilities,” said Baute.

The six pests that can be recorded through the program include the western bean cutworm (WBC), European corn borer (both the New York and Iowa strain) (ECB), corn earworm, black cutworm, true armyworm, and fall armyworm. Each requires different traps and monitoring frequency, depending on region.

As well, deadlines for trap set-up vary pest to pest. The ECB traps are to be up in the middle weeks of May, to be able to capture the first generations of moths. WBC traps are to be up by the end of June to catch moth peak flight.

Any individual is welcome to participate in the pest tracking.

“We are not limiting anyone to trapping, [but] right now we don’t have the funding in place to provide traps for these additional pests to participants, but we do take their data and map it … to show what the pest is doing across the different regions.”

Geographic Information Specialists (GIS) do the mapping of the trap data.

Jennifer Birchmore, senior GIS specialist with OMAFRA has been taking weekly trap data spreadsheets and creating interactive maps.

“We did bring her group on board about five or six years ago, but that has enabled us to do interactive mapping instead of a static map being published each week,” said Baute

WBC scouting tips

Western bean cutworm prevalence for the 2019 season is an unknown due to the late and cold spring in much of Ontario.

Peak flight for moths is directly correlated with the accumulation of growing degree days (GDD).

Across the whole province the average peak flight timing is commonly the third or fourth weekend in July. By region, Essex County experiences peak flight in the second week of July, southwestern Ontario experiences it the third week of July and Central Ontario experiences it in the first week of August.

With the lack of GDDs Ontario has experienced thus far, there may be mixed results.

“This kind of year is a bit of a guess, as GDDs are slow, there may be a delay in peak flight for western bean cutworm, but there is probably also going to be a delay in peak tasseling,” says Tracey Baute, OMAFRA entomologist.

Some regions may have perfect alignment of tassel and flight while others may not.

Damage will be a mix this year between crops – as corn gets too advanced or not enough corn is present to maintain the population, the moths will migrate to dry beans, says Baute.

The pest damages crop quality more than yield.

“WBC feeding on corn can help introduce and encourage the growth of DON and different mycotoxins in corn; dry beans you can actually see pod disease harm.”

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer lives on a farm in Cayuga, Ontario and has a lot of experience in the many aspects of agriculture.

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