Insects

Corn Earworms

Corn Earworms
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Also known as the tomato fruitworm and cotton bollworm, this caterpillar changes appearance markedly as it grows. Young Corn Earworms are tiny and white, with black heads; older ones are 1 1/2 inches long and green to nearly black in color, with lengthwise stripes and stubby spines along their backs. Finding one of these pests in an ear of corn is dismaying--but the damage is modest, and the ear can be salvaged by cutting off the spoiled tip.

Target: Corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables.

Damage: Caterpillars and eggs are found in silk and tip kernels of ripening corn; tomatoes may be tunneled.

Life cycle: In spring, moths lay domed, ridged, whitish eggs singly on silks or leaf undersides. Caterpillars hatch and feed for several weeks, then pupate in the soil. There are up to seven generations a year.

Notes: Plant tight-husked corn varieties; or put a clothes pin or rubber band on tip of husk. Place a dropperful of mineral oil in tip of ear when silks have withered but before they turn brown. Apply Bt or inject nematodes into husk during silking.