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Corn Earworm

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The corn earworm is a common pest of many crops including cotton, tobacco, tomatoes, soybeans, and sweet, field and popcorn. Its broad host range enables it to successfully Moths first appear in June. The moths are green-eyed, 3/4 inch long, with a 1 1/2 inch wingspan, usually buff-colored, sometimes with shades of pink or green, and with dark forewing markings. Hind wings are light, but have dark margins. Eggs are laid singly on corn leaves.

Earworms may vary greatly in color, but all have three or four black stripes running the full length of the body. Basic body coloration may be green, yellow, black, brown or even pink. Mature worms can be up to 2 inches long.

After eggs hatch, young worms travel down the silk channels into the ear tips. Corn earworms are cannibalistic so only one normally matures in each ear.

If outbreaks are not severe ignore them. Pyrethroid insecticides have been the most effective controls for commercial growers but are not usually available to homeowners. Apply Sevin insecticide only to the silks when they first show. Organic gardeners can use a few drops of mineral oil as silking starts with a second application a few days.

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