Seasonal response of Noctua pronuba Linnaeus, 1758 (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to traps in Washington StatePan-Pacific Entomologist


Peter J. Landolt, Richard S. Zack, Diana Roberts
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Seasonal response of Noctua pronuba Linnaeus, 1758 (Lepidoptera:

Noctuidae) to traps in Washington State

PETER J. LANDOLT1,*, RICHARD S. ZACK2 AND DIANA ROBERTS3 1USDA, ARS, 5230 Konnowac Pass Road, Wapato, Washington 98951, U.S.A.; e-mail: 2James Entomological Collection, Department of Entomology, Washington State

University, Pullman, Washington 99164, U.S.A.; e-mail: 3Washington State University Extension Service, 222 N. Havana Street, Spokane,

Washington 99202, U.S.A.; e-mail: *Corresponding author.

Abstract. Noctua pronuba Linnaeus, 1758 (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), the yellow underwing moth, was recently introduced into western North America. Blacklight traps at multiple sites in eastern Washington State indicate two broad periods of moth fl ight. A spring fl ight was evident in May and June, and a late season fl ight was evident from late August into

October. Noctua pronuba moths were captured also in traps baited with acetic acid plus 3-methyl-1-butanol, but not in traps baited with acetic acid or 3-methyl-1-butanol alone.

This chemical combination is thought to be a feeding attractant for many noctuid moths and may be useful for monitoring N. pronuba. The seasonal pattern of moths captured in traps baited with this chemical lure was similar to the pattern seen with blacklight traps.

Key Words. yellow underwing, cutworm, attractant, blacklight, fl ight period, acetic acid, 3-methyl1-butanol.


The yellow underwing moth, Noctua pronuba Linnaeus, 1758, is widespread in

Europe, Asia and Africa (Kravchenko et al. 2007). It was introduced into North

America by 1979 (Neil 1981) and is now found across Canada (Lafontaine 1998, Copley & Cannings 2005) and in many areas of the United States (Passoa & Hollingsworth 1996, Powell 2002). It has been in the state of Washington at least since 2002 and is probably yet increasing in abundance.

Noctua pronuba has a wide larval host range, including grasses, forbs, and woody perennial vines and shrubs in a diversity of plant families (Lafontaine 1998, Powell & Opler 2010). In Europe, it is considered a pest of numerous crops, but may not be well sorted from other cutworm species in assessments of crop damage (i.e., Bowden et al. 1983). Despite an apparent increasing abundance in the Pacifi c Northwest of

North America and the diversity of its reported host plants, N. pronuba has not been reported damaging crops in this area. Nonetheless, it is of concern as a potential crop pest (Copley & Cannings 2005).

Information on geographic distribution, relative abundance, and seasonal phenology of pest moths is often acquired with the use of traps. Much of the information on the distribution and spread of N. pronuba in North America has been obtained by collecting moths with blacklight traps (Passoa & Hollingsworth 1996) and at lights.

Sex pheromones or sex attractants are often used in traps for the monitoring of pest insects, particularly moths, in agricultural crops and are particularly useful for the detection and monitoring of individual species. To date, a sex pheromone has 212015 LANDOLT ET AL.: TRAPPING NOCTUA PRONUBA IN WASHINGTON STATE not been identifi ed for N. pronuba, and sex attractants have not been experimentally demonstrated. Several N. pronuba moths were captured in traps baited with pheromones of Pandemis heparana (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775) (Hrudova 2003) and of Hyphantria cunea (Drury, 1773) (Ostrauskas 2004), but there is yet no experimental support for male N. pronuba attraction to those chemicals.

Noctua pronuba can be trapped with fermented sweet baits, such as sweetened wine (Pettersson & Franzen 2008) or a mixture of wine, sugar, and acetic acid (Tanyeri et al 2011). The moth has also been captured in traps baited with the combination of acetic acid and 3-methyl-1-butanol (AAMB) (Tóth et al 2010, Landolt et al. 2011a) which are volatile chemicals that have been isolated from fermented sweet baits (Utrio &

Erikkson 1977, El Sayed et al 2005).

We report here the seasonal pattern of capture of N. pronuba in blacklight traps and traps baited with a feeding attractant and confi rmation of their attraction to AAMB in traps. These results were obtained collaterally from studies that assessed moth diversity in conserved habitats and determined attractiveness of lures to wheat head armyworm Dargida (Faronta) diffusa (Walker, 1856) (Landolt et al. 2011b), spotted cutworm Xestia c-nigrum (Linnaeus, 1758) (Landolt et al. 2011c), and codling moth

Cydia pomonella (Linnaeus, 1758). We provide a fi rst assessment of the seasonality of adult N. pronuba fl ight activity in the state of Washington.


Season-long blacklight trapping. Blacklight traps monitored the abundance of macro moths at sites in Kittitas, Yakima, Lincoln, and Whitman Counties, Washington (Table 1). Different light traps were used, but all were of the same basic design of a bucket with killing agent covered by a funnel over which a blacklight was positioned.

Blacklight Trap Survey 1. In 2005 blacklight traps were placed at three locations at the Kramer Palouse Prairie site. The Kramer site is a 27-acre native habitat within an

Table 1. Summary of site locations, start and end dates and replicates for trapping tests that provided information on N. pronuba seasonal times of fl ight.

Blacklight traps

County Site (s) Dates # Traps GPS coordinates Test No.

Whitman Kramer Preserve 12 March to 21 Sept. 2005 3 N46035.015’ W117012.941’ 1

Yakima Zillah April to Nov. 2008 3 N46026.354’ W120014.459’ 2

Lincoln Davenport May to Oct. 2009 1 1

N47040.159’ W117057.173’

N47040.185’ W118001.179’ 3

Yakima Donald March to Nov. 2009 1 N46028.165’ W120022.433’ 4

Kittitas Swauk Creek April to Nov. 2009 1 N47007.427’ W120044.343’ 5

AAMB Traps

County Site (s) Dates # Traps GPS coordinates Test No.

Yakima Parker 12 May to 17 June 2010 3 N46026.354’ W120014.459’ 2