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CORN EARWORM

The corn earworm is one of the most costly insect pest in the Western hemisphere.  It feeds on over 50 cultivated crops including sweet corn, tomatoes, soybeans, and cotton.  The caterpillar is found in every state except Alaska and has developed resistance to many insecticides.

Economic Costs

The corn earworm is one of the United States' most costly insect pests, regularly costing in excess of $2 billion per year.

About the Corn Earworm

Aliases

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Helicoverpa zea

Corn Earworm

Tomato Fruitworm

American Cotton Bollworm

Soybean Podworm

Whorlworm

Affected Crops

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Sweet corn

Tomato

Soybean

Cotton

Tobacco

Alfalfa

Beans

Eggplant

Sorghum

Spinach

Maize

Okra

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Pea

Chickpea

Peppers

Citrus

Cucumber

Strawberry

Quinoa

Lettuce

Groundnut

Amaranth

Millet

Willow

Clover

Velvet leaf

Carolina geranium

Barbeton Daisy

Sunflower

Tall morning glory

Henbit deadnettle

Sericea lespedeza

Japanese honeysuckle

Black medic

Multiple generations

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One female moth can lay up to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime.  Thus, the number of caterpillars significantly increases in each subsequent generation. 


Southern states, which have longer summers, have more corn earworm generations.  One-third of the U.S. has 4 or more generations.