University of Illinois Extension
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Corn Earworm/Tomato Fruitworm
Pepper, Tomato, Beans, Sweet Corn and Pumpkin

Description

The corn earworm larvae or tomato fruitworm attack pepper, tomato, beans, sweet corn and other vegetables. The larvae feed on the leaves of beans and burrows into the pods as well. In tomatoes, the moth lay eggs singly on the younger leaves and around developing fruit. The hatched larva burrows into the fruit near the cap making the fruit unmarketable. The corn earworm moth does not overwinter in northern Illinois. The adults migrate from the southern parts of the state in early spring. The first generation is usually small and does not cause a lot of problems. The corn earworm moth is much bigger than the European Cornborer moth. It has irregular markings on the wings. It lays eggs singly on green corn silk. The eggs hatch into larvae in less than a week. The larvae move into the ear where they begin feeding on the kernels, silk & corncob from the tip downwards. The larvae are green to reddish in color and have stripes and spines.

Management

Monitor the moths using pheromone traps, spraying insecticides recommended in your state when the silk is green & moth catch in pheromone traps is about 10 per night and treat every three to five days until the silk turns brown. In beans, it should be watched from bud stage until about one week before harvest. In pepper and tomato fruit, insecticide applications should be done only when the fruit is present. Home gardeners can try floating row covers or check with your local Extension office for other possible recommended controls.

Photos

The corn earworm larvae or tomato fruitworm attack pepper, tomato, beans, sweet corn and other vegetables