How to Manage European Corn Borers in Corn
European corn borers (Ostrinia nubilalis) are voracious insects that can cause significant damage to corn crops, resulting in reduced yields and financial losses.
By understanding the impacts of European corn borers, promptly detecting the pests and using products like Willowood Lambda-Cy 1EC** and GCS Bifenthrin 2EC**, farmers can protect crops and optimize their yields.
In this guide, we will explore:
European corn borer life cycles
How European corn borers affect corn
How to identify European corn borers
The regions typically affected by European corn borers
When European corn borers usually affect crops
Chemical products to control European corn borers
What Are European Corn Borers?
The European corn borer is a species of moth with a four-stage life cycle:
*Because European corn borers primarily damage corn crops at the larval stage, this is when control measures are applied.
Depending on the region of corn production, there can be between one and four generations of ECB per year, although two generations per year is most common.
First generation European corn borer larvae overwinter inside corn stalks and corn cobs, which provide protection for the larva from weather and predators. In early spring, the larvae become active and convert into the pupa stage.
Adult moths then emerge in mid-May through mid-June. They mate, and the female moth lays eggs in clusters of 5-30 eggs on the underside of corn leaves near the midrib. Eggs hatch in 4-10 days, and the larva feed in the whorls of the plant, which causes a shot-holed appearance on the leaves as they continue to grow.
As the larvae increase in size, they bore into the tender stalk, forming a cavity within the stalk. The larva then pupate and the second generation moth emerges 7-14 days later.
Second generation European corn borer moths mate, and the female moth lay eggs on the underside of leaves. These lava hatch and feed on remaining pollen in leaf axils and also on corn silks. Eventually, the second generation larvae feed and enter the shanks of ears, ear tips and upper half of corn stalks.
How Do European Corn Borers Affect Corn?
European corn borer larvae tunnel into the stalks, ears and tassels of corn plants, weakening the plants, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients throughout the plant and creating disease entry points. This also makes corn more susceptible to lodging, especially during strong winds or heavy rains, which can lead to pest and disease vulnerability and severe yield losses.
More specifically, European corn borer larvae harm crops through:
Stalk Damage: European corn borer-inflicted damage to the stalk can translate to harvest issues due to weakened, broken and lodged stalks. This also provides an entry point for additional insects and possible disease.
Shank Feeding: When European corn borer larvae feed on the ear shank, it may cause ear droppage and make the ear unharvestable. This can result in significant yield loss at the end of the season.
Ear Tip Feeding: Ear tip feeding by European corn borer larvae can lead to kernel loss, which will also impact your yield.
How to Identify European Corn Borers
European corn borer adult moths are relatively small with a wingspan of about one inch and a distinctive pattern of alternating light and dark bands across their wings. These moths are most active during the evening and night, making light traps or pheromone traps useful for spotting them.
The larvae are cream-colored with brown heads and can be found tunneling through the stalks, ears, and tassels of corn plants.
Several indicators can help identify the presence of European corn borers in corn fields, including:
The characteristic "shot-hole" appearance on leaves, resulting from larvae feeding on foliage
Frass, the insect excrement, found near entry points such as holes in leaves
The presence of larvae inside stalks, ears, or tassels
Regions Affected by European Corn Borers
European corn borers are a widespread pest found throughout the United States, with the highest populations typically observed in the Midwest region.
However, they can also be a problem in other corn-growing regions, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the South.
When Do European Corn Borers Typically Affect Crops?
European corn borers can be a persistent threat throughout the entire growing season, although their activity levels vary depending on the region and prevailing weather conditions.
Early-season infestations are more prevalent in southern regions, while late-season infestations tend to be more common in northern regions.
How to Chemically Manage European Corn Borers
When deciding whether to employ chemical products to control European corn borers, farmers should first assess the severity of the infestation and determine the economic threshold for treatment.
One popular option is Willowood Lambda-Cy 1EC**, an insecticide containing lambda-cyhalothrin, which is labeled for use on soybeans specifically for European corn borer control.
Another option is GCS Bifenthrin 2EC**, which is another insecticide containing bifenthrin with similar label applications against European corn borers.
Chemical products containing active ingredients like bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or chlorantraniliprole have also been proven to be highly effective in combating European corn borers.
Regular scouting, monitoring, and timely intervention are key to minimizing damage caused by European corn borers and ensuring healthy and productive corn crops.
European Corn Borer Crop Protection from FBN Direct®
Proactively scouting for and responding to pest presence in your fields will help reduce potential crop damage and improve yield. FBN Direct has a wide variety of effective insecticides to help address pest pressures and keep your operation on track. With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN Direct can help you get the products you need to protect your crops.
Hero Image: Jan Samanek, Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
© 2014 - 2023 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, “FBN Direct” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. This content was written by Norm℠, reviewed and edited by Mikaela Tierney.
**RESTRICTED USE PESTICIDE Due to acute toxicity. For retail sale to and use by certified applicators only – NOT to be used by uncertified persons working under the supervision of a certified applicator.
FBN Direct products and services and other products distributed by FBN Direct are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed and where those products are registered for sale or use, if applicable. If applicable, please check with your local extension service to ensure registration status. Nothing contained on this page, including the prices listed should be construed as an offer for sale, or a sale of products. All products and prices are subject to change at any time and without notice and excludes CA mills tax and MN ACRRA fees. Terms and conditions apply.
ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix and that the usage of a product is otherwise consistent with federal, state and local laws. We reserve the right to restrict sales on a geographic basis in our sole discretion. You must have a valid applicator license to use restricted use pesticides. Please consult your state department of agriculture for complete rules and regulations on the use of restricted use pesticides, as some products require specific record-keeping requirements.
All product recommendations and other information provided is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for consulting the product label or for specific agronomic, business, or professional advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consult with a qualified advisor. Neither Farmer's Business Network Inc. nor any of its affiliates makes any representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the statements or any information contained in the material and any liability therefore is expressly disclaimed.