From 1905 to present, cutworm outbreaks have caused substantial yield losses in North Western (NW) Europe. Early authors pointed to dry summers as the trigger; around 1980, the explanation was improved via modelling of historical data. The number of precipitation days and the July temperature proved to be important, and in experiments, moist soil caused considerable mortality. This information was used in preliminary forecasting with pheromone trap catches as biofix for estimations of occurrence and survival. As more precise information on temperature effects on growth and survival was needed, we performed experiments on growth and mortality effects on egg, all larval instars and pupae. We found clear positive relations between temperatures below 35 °C and development rates of eggs, all larval instars and pupae. Mortality was also affected, and low temperature caused pronounced mortality of young larvae. The severe mortality under cold, moist conditions versus high survival under warm, dry conditions may explain both the lack of relation between captures and injuries and the pronounced fluctuations of cutworm attacks in NW Europe reported from 1905 to present. These variations are likely to increase with the climate change and suggest a reanalysis of data on trap capture and injuries to improve decision support and sustainability in Integrated Pest Management.
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