European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) also known as the European corn worm or European high-flyer has a wide host range, attacking many herbaceous plants with a stem large enough for larvae to enter. The western strain attacks corn and other vegetables before corn is available, or late season when corn becomes senescent. Crops attacked include beans, pepper, potato, cannabis, hemp, hops and oats. The adult females lay clusters of whitish-yellow eggs on the underside of corn leaves, as the eggs develop they become transparent and the black heads of the caterpillars become visible (see above picture). The larva vary in color from light brown to pinkish gray with small brown spots along the body. The adult female is light yellowish-brown with darker irregular wavy bands across the wings while the male is smaller and darker. A female can lay a total of 400 to 600 eggs during her adult life.
Small larvae damage the tassels, whorl and leaf sheath tissue of corn, before entering the stalk and corn ear. The damage to the leaves reduces photosynthesis while damage to the corn stalk decreases the amount of nutrients and water the plant can transport to the ear. European corn borers eat the ear, reducing the crop yield and which often results on the ear falling to the ground causing serious marketable loss.
In other crops, the stem and buds or developing fruits is similarly damaged. Heavily tunneled stems reduce the harvesting quality and allow several pathogenic fungi to affect plants.
There are natural enemies of the European corn borer.
For more information contact your local BioBee field agent.