Taking an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management


Missouri Pest Monitoring Network
Corn Earworm I.D.

multiple examples of Corn Earworm moths with wings spread

Identification of moth
(stage attracted to and captured in traps)

  • Moths are buff-colored with irregular wing markings and a wingspan of 1 ½ inches.
  • Corn Earworm wings closed

Identification of larvae (damaging stage)

Corn Earworm larvae
  • Small larvae are cream-colored but larger ones have variable coloration (pale green to rose to brown) and pale lateral stripes.
  • Unlike other striped larvae with four abdominal prolegs, corn earworm larvae have numerous small, black spines along their back and sides.
  • The larval stage of the corn earworm and the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (F.), look very similar; however, corn earworm larvae lack an extra tooth on the inside of their mandibles. A 10x hand lens is necessary to distinguish both the black spines on the corn earworm larvae and the presence or absence of the extra mandible tooth.
  • Once a larva is full-grown, it crawls down the host plant and pupates in the soil. The next generation of moths emerges within the next 10 to 25 days.

Identification of Eggs

  • Eggs are ribbed, white to cream-colored and dome-shaped. They are laid near the terminals and fruit of its host plants. Reddish brown bands appear on the eggs before the larvae hatch.
Corn Earworm egg
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REVISED: April 20, 2021