Army Cutworm Outbreak Produced Cheatgrass Die-offs and Defoliated Shrubs in Southwest Idaho in 2014
For this edition of Rangeland News, I would like to highlight a recent Rangelands article by Cindy Salo (Volume 40, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 99-105) on the relationship between army cutworms and cheatgrass die-off and shrub defoliation in southwestern Idaho (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2018.05.003).
This paper is noteworthy to me for two reasons. First, it is very well written and an interesting read. Dr. Salo describes the relevant life history of army cutworms and thoroughly documents their impacts on Idaho rangelands in 2014 through personal observations and other unpublished sources. The main reason that this paper stands out to me, though, is that it represents a type of article that we do not see much of anymore. Rather than being a summary of a specific research project, Dr. Salo synthesizes a number of independent sampling efforts and incidental observations to depict the distribution and impact of army cutworms. While it could be tempting to dismiss such an effort as ad hoc, or even unscientific; that would miss the larger impact of this kind of study. The real value of this paper is that it establishes a baseline and proposes a meaningful research direction to advance rangeland management – in other words, it is a documentation of the first stages of the scientific method. To be sure, this paper is much more than a collection of anecdotes of where people saw some moths. It is a well-researched set of observations from which research hypotheses and management implications follow. The field of rangeland management would be well served by more of this type of article.
Dr. Jason KarlDr. Eva Levi
Editor in Chief, RangelandsManaging Editor, Rangelands