Cultural control is the practice of adjusting the crop environment to make it unsuitable for the development of the pest populations, whilst maintaining the best conditions for high productivity. It is usually a preventative control measure rather than direct suppression of pest outbreaks. It is mostly practiced by smallholder farmers and are based on cropping systems, such as plot size and location, intercropping, crop rotation, sanitation, use of plants with repellent actions, applying ash or sand in the whorls of maize plants to kill the larvae.
An important management option for smallholder farmers in Africa, based on the experience of smallholders in the Americas, is to visit their fields regularly to and crush egg masses and young larvae* ("use your fingers, not pesticides"). Farmers should visit fields twice a week during the vegetative stage, especially following periods of flight activity by FAW moths, and once a week or every 15 days in later stages.
Many smallholder farmers in Africa, as well as the Americas, have used abrasive materials such as wood-fire ash, sand, sawdust or even soil applied directly to their crops to protect from insect damage. These materials cause abrasion of the cuticle of the pest insects and they die from desiccation. Such techniques have been adapted to control FAW by placing the abrasive materials into the whorls of the maize plants. Although very labour–intensive, good control results have been reported in field trials in various parts of Africa, including South Africa. This is another example of indigenous knowledge in action and word will soon spread of the efficacy results obtained by farmers.