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Common stalk borer

Stalk borer is an occasional pest of corn in Iowa, but some fields may experience persistent stalk borer issues. Stalk borers usually infest plants adjacent to grassy or weedy areas, such as ditches, waterways, and fence rows. Scouting for stalk borer relies on predicting activity based on degree day accumulation and looking for larvae. Timing insecticide applications while larvae are actively moving to corn is critical to ensure proper management since no rescue treatments are available.

stalk borer larva in corn stalk and leaf feeding on young corn by stalk borer
Left: Young stalk borer larva found tunneling in a corn stalk. Photo by James Kalisch, Univeristy of Nebraska. Left: Leaf feeding by stalk borer on young vegetative corn. Photo by Marlin Rice.

An encyclopedia article details stalk borer identification, biology, plant injury, scouting, and management. This includes how to track growing degree days and a sampling plan for larvae.

Stalk borer encyclopedia article

The Iowa Environmental Mesonet hosts a Pest Forecasting page where growing degree days for stalk borer development may be tracked. 

Track stalk borer development

Annually, scouting alerts for Iowa are posted on the Integrated Crop Management News page. Throughout the growing season, additional updates on stalk borer activity may be posted on ICM News or on the Integrated Crop Management Blog page.

If you would like to receive timely alerts of stalk borer activity in Iowa via text messaging, sign up for the Iowa Pest Alert Network!