corn earworm kernel damage 3 MER copy1.JPG

Corn earworm moth


  • Adult: Nocturnal moths with buff-colored forewings that have dark lines or spots on the tips.
  • Larvae: Vary in color; can range from light green or pink to black and have alternating light and dark stripes running the length of the body. At maturity, they are 1½" long.
  • Eggs: Tiny, hemispherical and ribbed and are laid singly on the leaves of plants, especially young leaves, corn tassels and silks.

Timing of damage: V12 to R6

Type of damage: Larvae feed on the whorl, tassel, silks and ear kernels. Severe damage gives the plant a ragged appearance and feeding at the tip of the ear can create an entryway for mold and other diseases.

Scouting: Use pheromone-baited traps to monitor moths. Scout for eggs soon after trapping moths, sample 20 ears from each of five locations. 

Economic threshold: Treat if 5% to 10% of the ears are infested with eggs or larvae.

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