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Whatís eating my sweetcorn?

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  • Whatís eating my sweetcorn?

    There are small caterpillars eating my corn from the tassel end. Every single cob is affected and I canít find any UK pest matching the description.The pest seems to lay its eggs in the tassels as the corn is maturing and then the caterpillars eat the ripe kernels. They are about 8mm long and a beige colour, I suppose they would be larger if I didnít interrupt their party 😉 Any thoughts what this is or how to prevent it?

  • #2
    Ive never known of a caterpillar eating corn here,I googled & Africa have had a problem with the army worm,then I found this & it says they could be coming here-
    ďEuropean customs inspectors have already discovered and destroyed the pest on quarantined crops imported from Africa on several occasionsĒ
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/d...african-crops/

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    • #3
      New one on me too, normally earwigs, wasps and rats for me

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      • #4
        Is it definitely a caterpillar - not a grub/maggot?

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        • #5
          Photos please, with close ups
          All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by veggiechicken View Post
            Is it definitely a caterpillar - not a grub/maggot?
            It could be a grub or maggot, I’m not sure what the difference is? Whatever it is lays copious eggs, they look like sawdust.
            Last edited by TrixC; 04-09-2018, 06:56 PM.

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            • #7
              Those eggs could be frass...
              All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

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              • #8
                Ok, I posted this last year but wasnít able to get a photo of the pest in question. This year the same thing is back and Iíve managed to get a picture - sorry, quality not great but hopefully Click image for larger version

Name:	CA09287E-6897-4487-88F1-EAF3540193F0.jpg
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ID:	2385103 you can see a couple of the pesky critters crawling on the peeled back husk, as well as the damage they do.

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                • #9
                  Hereís another photo of the damage.Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    After some further research and looking closely at some of the caterpillars today I’m almost positive the pest is Corn earworm (Helicoverpa armigera). I’m a bit puzzled because there seems to be inconsistent info on whether it’s present in the UK. No sites for amateur gardeners seem to mention it. It has totally devastated my sweet corn crop for two years running.
                    Last edited by TrixC; 31-08-2019, 05:35 PM.

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                    • #11
                      yikes!
                      If it's happened two years on the bounce, I'd burn any remnants and give it a miss next year.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TrixC View Post
                        After some further research and looking closely at some of the caterpillars today Iím almost positive the pest is Corn earworm (Helicoverpa armigera). Iím a bit puzzled because there seems to be inconsistent info on whether itís present in the UK. No sites for amateur gardeners seem to mention it. It has totally devastated my sweet corn crop for two years running.
                        The helicoverpa armigera is also called scarce bordered straw in English,theres records of the moth migrating to our country for years,Iíve never seen it at mine but lots of other people have seen them in the map in this link,Iíd carry on growing it but always check the underside of leaves for eggs etc. Have you noticed any damage on your beans,thereís a few plants they like to eat. These caterpillars/moths have a second generation by dropping to the soil & emerging as adults ready to lay eggs,it would be good to have a plastic mulch around the corn stems so they couldnít do that?

                        Click image for larger version

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                        https://species.nbnatlas.org/species...ab_recordsView

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jungle Jane View Post
                          The helicoverpa armigera is also called scarce bordered straw in English,theres records of the moth migrating to our country for years,Iíve never seen it at mine but lots of other people have seen them in the map in this link,Iíd carry on growing it but always check the underside of leaves for eggs etc. Have you noticed any damage on your beans,thereís a few plants they like to eat. These caterpillars/moths have a second generation by dropping to the soil & emerging as adults ready to lay eggs,it would be good to have a plastic mulch around the corn stems so they couldnít do that?

                          [ATTACH=CONFIG]89214[/ATTACH]

                          https://species.nbnatlas.org/species...ab_recordsView
                          T

                          Thanks for posting the link, it's a relief to know that I'm not the only one reporting it. The damage really is bad. I think they lay the eggs in the silks rather than on the leaves. Do you think a cardboard mulch would help? I try to avoid using plastic on my allotment unless there's no alternative. They don't seem to have affected my beans, one of the few crops that seems to be problem free for me!

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                          • #14
                            As it’s a moth,it will come along & lay eggs it’s difficult? I’d learn when it’s active & check every other day for eggs or could a garlic spray help hide the scent of corn or some other companion planting or deterrent? Try searching the internet organic control of helicoverpa armigera on sweetcorn,see if anyone else in the world has the problem & knows how to solve it?

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