Photo – Stephanie Porter, Illinois Soybean Association

This week my phone has been buzzing with questions pertaining to all these black moths that we keep seeing out in the fields as well as around homes. If they are black and have the triangle shape of a stealth fighter jet, they most likely are adult green cloverworms.

The green cloverworm caterpillars can be commonly found in soybeans and like to feed on alfalfa, clover, dry beans, cowpea, vetch, and many common weeds.  In most years, fungal pathogens, insect parasites, and other predators keep the cloverworm populations at low levels, but obviously that was not the case this year.

The green cloverworm can be found in most of the United States and southeastern Canada, where soybeans are grown.  Generally, the green cloverworm is not considered a serious pest.  It can be confused with looper, which has three abdominal prolegs.  The green cloverworm has four abdominal prolegs. Another fun fact is that if the green cloverworm is touched or disturbed, it will briefly jump, or flop, and no other soybean caterpillar does this.

No need to worry about these moths as they are harmless but they have become a nuisance.  They will soon find shelter in leaves and if they survive the winter, they will emerge in the spring to lay their eggs.

Photo – Abigail Peterson, Illinois Soybean Association

Source:  Black Moths Abundant Around the Farm

Green Cloverworm – Soybean Pest – Soybean Research & Information Network – SRIN (

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About the Author: Stephanie Porter

As Outreach Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Stephanie supports research efforts and helps communicate both in-field and edge-of-field research and validation studies to Illinois 43,000 soybean farmers. She also helps lead the demonstration and adoption of conservation agriculture practices and raises awareness of best management and continuous improvement practices for conservation agriculture in Illinois. Stephanie has 23 years of experience that consists of agronomy, conservation, horticulture, plant diagnostics, and education. She has her bachelor’s in crop science and master’s in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. Stephanie is a Certified Crop Advisor and was named the 2018 Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Master Soybean Advisor. She also has experience with corn and soybean pathology research, crop scouting, soil testing, as well as crop consulting. Previously, she utilized her diagnostic training and collaborated with University of Illinois departmental Extension Specialists to diagnose plant health problems and prepare written responses describing the diagnosis and management recommendations as the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.

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