Corn Earworm Information

Corn Earworm Information - Corn Earworms Pest Control

Corn earworms

Corn earworms attack both corn and tomatoes, and are most often seen and southern and central states. They attack the tips of corn ears just as they begin to tassel. If the infestation is minor, just cut off the tips of the ears after harvest. A heavy infestation can interrupt pollination, and calls for some defensive measures.

The ugly caterpillar can grow to 2 inches long, and comes in shades of green, pale yellow and brown. Adults are dull beige or gray moths with a 1-1/2-inch wingspan and a few black spots. A drop of mineral oil on the tip of each ear may help to suffocate any resident earworms. Some gardeners swear by mixing the mineral oil with pureed African marigolds or geranium leaves, but in most cases, the mineral oil does the trick without any additives. Do not apply mineral oil until pollination is complete.

Fall tilling helps by exposing the pupae, which overwinter in the soil, to wind, weather, and predators. You can avoid earworms altogether by planting early, but the cold, damp weather discourages the corn almost as much as it does the earworms. Corn varieties with tight husks are physically more resistant to earworm damage. Try Country Gentleman or Silver Cross Bantam. Clipping a clothespin on the tip of each ear can help to keep husks tight. For an effective homemade spray, try Wormwood Spray or a spray made from garlic and onion tea. Blacklight traps will destroy earworms, and cosmos, smartweed and sunflowers are good trap crops.

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