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A “trapline” for worms in sweet corn

Contact: Abby Seaman,, 315 787 2422

by Mary Woodsen

A “trapline” for worms in sweet corn

Those crawly critters that farmers find now and then in their sweet corn are up to no good for their bottom line. Knowing when the moths that produce these caterpillars are flying helps farmers devise strategy to prevent them. It also helps them avoid wasting control efforts—and money—when these insects pose no threat to corn.

The Trap Network—officially the Western New York Sweet Corn Pheromone Trap Network—maintains a network of traps for the three major sweet corn “worm” pests: European corn borer (overwinters in New York) and the corn earworm and fall armyworm (both are migratory). Traps are located in about 17 sweet corn fields in a dozen-plus western New York counties.

Network collaborators—growers, crop consultants, and Cooperative Extension educators—count the moths in the traps each week. They relay the information to Abby Seaman, Western New York vegetable IPM educator, who posts the counts on the web, along with news about sweet corn scouting and spray thresholds.  Once farmers know that moths are flying in their area, it’s time to start scouting for them. These trap catches also help growers release Trichogramma ostriniae, a tiny parasitic wasp that helps control European corn borer, at the right times.

The traps and lures are provided by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program and maintained throughout the season with the help of local Cornell Cooperative Extension programs, farmers, and crop consultants.

Find trap counts online at the Sweet Corn Pheromone Trap Network for Western New York and Pennsylvania State Pest Watch. Learn how to integrate the trap counts into an IPM program at Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Vegetable Crops.

For more information about sweet corn pests, call your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or contact Abby Seaman (Western New York,, 315-787-2422) or John Mishanec (Eastern New York, 518-434-0016).