Insect pests of the whorl, stalk, and ear

John Van Duyn, North Carolina State University, Entomology Extension Specialist

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As corn plants reach the mid-whorl and later stages different insect pests may threaten the corn crop. Several insects may feed upon the leaves whereas others tunnel the stalk or feed in the ear. Leaf feeding is seldom an economic problem but may give a cosmetic impression that the crop is threatened. However, stalk feeding by European corn borer and southern cornstalk bore can significantly lower grain yields and cause other problems. Also, ear feeding can cause yield loss and grain quality problems, including contamination with mycotoxins.

Management of whorl, stalk and ear feeding insects mainly relies upon cultural practice and hybrid choice decisions; insecticdes are infrequently used. In particular practices that avoid late maturity (e.g. hybrid selection and planting date), the use of transgenic Bt corn, and timely harvest are important for reducing losses to these insect pests.

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This page ( was created by John W. Van Duyn Ph D. Extension Entomologist and Wayne Modlin, Res. Tech. III, and Steven Roberson.

Date Created 1/30/01.
Last revised on 10/31/03.

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

CAUTION: The information and recommendations in these Notes were developed for North Carolina conditions and may not apply elsewhere.