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Sunflower Moth Arrives Early to ND (07/02/20)

Sunflower moth migrates into North Dakota from the southern states each year.

Sunflower moth migrates into North Dakota from the southern states each year. Because of its migratory nature, we don’t know when it will become more problematic in sunflowers of North Dakota. Sunflowers are in the early crops stages V4-V6 now. Pheromone traps are specific to that species, so you get few non-target moths. Traps also determine when the sunflower moth arrives further north and its relative population densities, which is important for making pest management decisions.

Trap catches for the sunflower moths were observed at only 2 of the 9 trap sites in 7 counties (see map; Source:  NDSU IPM Crop Survey insect trapping network). Only one moth per trap per week were observed in Cass and Foster Counties. These trap catches are considered non-economic (so far).

Scouting:  The adult moth is about ⅜ inch long, grayish-tan and has a cigar-shaped appearance when at rest. Moths move into fields during early bloom. It deposits its eggs on the face of the flower. Damage is caused by the larvae feeding on seeds and tunneling in head. Walk at W pattern in field and count moths on 20 plants at 5 sampling sites and calculate an average number of moths per 5 plants. Since female moths lay eggs on the face of sunflower heads, insecticide should be applied during early flowering (R5.1 - R5.3). 

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Janet J. Knodel

Extension Entomologist

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