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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

2018 Blacklight Trapping Underway

For the past five years, the Institute has cooperated with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) as a member of their blacklight trapping network. The traps capture night-flying moths, many of which are pests of agricultural crops such as true armyworm and cutworms. Moths are attracted to the light and fly into the catch chamber, where they are held until they are counted by species on a weekly basis. As such, we can determine when the “peak flight” (the weekly interval when the maximum number of a specific species is caught) has occurred. During the peak flight, mating and egg laying occurs, from which point we can estimate when the damage-causing larva will emerge based on heat-unit accumulation. The Department issues alerts which are published in the Wisconsin Pest Bulletin.

The value of the data, in addition to predicting emergence, is determining how much pest pressure is likely to occur. This is important because pest populations fluctuate from year to year and often economically important pest levels are low, meaning farmers and crop scouts can turn their attention to activities other than scouting for a pest which isn’t likely to be present.