CORN EARWORM, Heliothis zea (Boddie)
(Also know as bollworm and tomato fruitworm)
Description PictureDamage
  • front wings which are a light grayish-brown, marked with dark-gray to olive-green irregular lines
  • fore wings haves a darker band near the tip
  • hind wings are light in color with slightly wavy dark bands, especially near the extremities
  • 1 1/2-inch wing expanse
  • larvae vary from light green or pink to brown or nearly black
  • alternating longitudinal dark and lgiht stripes mark its body
  • larvae vary from light green or pink to brown or nearly black
  • coloration is so variable that it is not dependable for identification
  • short microspines (visible through a hand lens) on the skin
  • feeding habits are useful identifying characteristics
  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • newly hatched larvae begin feeding on the plant where eggs were laid on corn silk
  • larvae burrow into and eat the developing grains
  • may feed in whorls of young corn plants, but usually is not an economic threat there
  • larvae are cannibalistic and usually only one larva grows in each ear