A corn earworm infestation can ruin an entire crop. There are several things to look for to be able to recognize this. These pests are caterpillars that grow no more than a couple of inches long. They come in colors of pink, yellow, brown, or green, regardless of the color they will have black legs and a white stripe. Eventually, they will pupate into moths that are tan colored. With careful monitoring, there are even ways to be able to prevent this infestation from happening at all.
What They Do
Corn earworm damage consists of the earworms feeding on the tips of your corn. There will be absolutely no outside evidence of their attack. They will travel down the ear of your plant until they have reached the other end. Cornstalks that have exposed silk are the most vulnerable to corn earworm attacks. Once the plant has been attacked, the leaves could fall off. This could cause problems overall all with your plants. Such as harm to your corn kernels and silk as well as tassel damage. Once your corn begins to mature, a new, second generation of a corn earworm infestation can occur as the larvae move down the silk vein. Once it gets into the maturing cob, a lot more significant crop damage will happen.
Corm earworms even wreak havoc on one another. These cannibalistic pest will eat any other earworm they find on the same plant.
How to Spot Earworms
Corn earworm control can be simple as long as you know what to look for. You should keep in mind that the corn earworm can go after other types of vegetables besides corn. There are even kinds of ornamental plants that are vulnerable to corn earworms. Keep a look out for the adult males, which are moths that are yellow or tan with a dark spot about the middle of each front wing. If you start to notice very large holes in the leaves of your vegetable or plant, you should begin to take action. Also keep an eye out for fecal matter on the exposed silk of your plant. June is the time that these pests will begin to lay their eggs.
How to Prevent Corn Earworms
Good preventative measures include applying mineral oil along the ends of your ears of corn. This will keep the earworms from entering. You can also introduce green lacewings. They are a natural killer for the earworms. If you end up using pesticides, you should use them during the time of day when the earworms are out the most. This will make sure you get rid of as many as possible. Never use chemical pesticides on your food crops. Another good way to prevent a corn earworm outbreak is by spraying your corn tassels with helpful nematodes, insect spray or dipel dust. Do this until the silk of the corn turns brown. Larvae will steer clear of your ears of corn after doing this.