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Controlling Corn Earworms Using Least-toxic Methods

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Controlling Corn Earworms Using Least-toxic Methods

Fresh corn can be an integral part of any outdoor meal.

Ernie Friedlander, Photodisc, Courtesy of Getty Images

Corn Earworms Exposed:

Adults are tan moths that emerge from the soil in early Spring. Females lay round white eggs on the leaves or tips of Corn. In just three days, light yellow, green, pink or brown caterpillars( 1"-2" or 2.5 cm-5 cm long) burst forth. They feed on fresh silks and move down the ears, eating the kernels for 2-4 weeks before returning to the soil to pupate. Adults renew the life cycle when they come out of the soil in 10 to 25 days.

Corn Earworm Prevention - Go Local, Cover, Inspect, Spray, Skewer and Squirt:

Make room in the garden for plants with flat flowers like fennel, to attract parasitic wasps that prey on corn earworm eggs. Interplant strong-smelling herbs to discourage adult moths from laying eggs. Cover young corn plants with row cover until the tassels emerge. Inspect the upright, topmost corn plant leaves every 2-3 days BEFORE the plant "tassles" and spray Bacillus thuringiensis, variety kurstaki(BTK) onto all leaf surfaces where feeding holes appear. Dig out any corn earworm larvae that you find in the husk ends, sprinkle BTK granules onto the tassles and squirt mineral oil onto the tips of the corn ears.

Insect Control of Corn Earworms - Beauty and the Beast:

Green Lacewings or Minute Pirate Bugs, available for purchase commercially, can help hold a Corn Earworm population in check.

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