Begin Scouting for Western Bean Cutworm Eggs in Corn

We recorded our first western bean cutworm moth capture in Nebraska at Concord on July 7, and a western bean cutworm egg mass was reported in Adams County the same day. The appearance of the first moths provides a signal that farmers and crop consultants should begin scouting  fields for the white, dome-shaped eggs.


Western bean cutworm moth.

Western bean cutworm egg mass

Western bean cutworm egg mass


Western bean cutworm larvae have stripes on the prothorax

Life Cycle

Western bean cutworm moths lay eggs in clusters of 5 to 200 on the top surface of the upper 1/3 of a corn plant. The eggs require five to seven days to develop, during which time the egg color changes to tan and then to purple immediately before they hatch.


Scouting for western bean cutworm should begin in field corn when the first moths are caught. Control decisions should be made shortly after the moth flight peaks. The moth flight usually peaks in early to mid-July.

When scouting for western bean cutworms in corn, check 20 plants in at least five areas of each field. Look for eggs on the top surface of the upper most leaves or look for larvae in the tassel. Because corn prices are at or above $3.50/bu, if 4% of the corn plants have egg masses or larvae, consider applying an insecticide.

Western bean cutworm moths prefer to lay eggs in corn plants that are in the late whorl stage compared to those that have completely tasseled. Pay particular attention to later planted fields or those with uneven development. Western bean cutworm eggs that hatch when corn plants are in the late whorl stage of growth have a high rate of survival. The larvae are well protected in the whorl or tassel.

More information can be found in the NebGuide, Western Bean Cutworm in Corn and Dry Beans (G2013).

New Scouting Tool in a Mobile App and Spreadsheet

We have developed a new "speed-scouting" method for western bean cutworm egg masses. The Western Bean Cutworm Speed Scout app allows users to speed scout corn fields to help them determine whether WBC populations have reached the action threshold for treatments. The app includes:

  • paperless scouting with real time, in-field decision support,
  • a visual aid in identifying WBC egg masses,
  • scouting data storage so you can review information without having Internet access,
  • and a reminder for when future scouting should be conducted.

The app is available for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android devices. The free app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play by searching "western bean cutworm."

It is also available as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet, Western Bean Cutworm Speed Scouting, EC1585.

Treatment Recommendations

Bt corn hybrids with proteins active against western bean cutworms (for example, Cry 1F and VIP3A) appear to control the larvae very well, although not entirely, and should not need treating. See the Handy BT Trait Table for a list of commercially available Bt corn hybrids and the proteins they express.

If an insecticide treatment is warranted in corn, it should be made when 95% of the plants in a field have tasseled. This application timing increases the chance that the worms will be exposed to the insecticide, resulting in better control.

Chemigation has provided very good control of this insect, even at lowest labeled rates. Asana, Ambush, Baythroid, Pounce, Lorsban, Capture, Mustang, Penncap-M, Prevathon, Proaxis, Warrior, and Sevin are all labeled for control of western bean cutworm. Many generics with these active ingredients also will give good control.

A list of registered insecticides, rates, preharvest intervals, and grazing restrictions is available in the Insect Management section of the most recent UNL Extension Guide to Weed Management in Nebraska with Insecticide and Fungicide Information (EC130).

Bob Wright, Extension Entomologist
Tom Hunt, Extension Entomologist
Wayne Ohnesorg, Extension Educator