Common Stalk Borer is a slender, purple and white striped caterpillar that can be found burrowing inside the stalk and stems in a wide variety of plants. It is most commonly found in the stalks of giant ragweed, but it has been known to attack corn plants as well. Corn plants in the first few rows near fence lines, waterways, grass terraces, and field margins is where you will commonly find stalk borer.
Stalk Borer moths will lay their eggs primarily on grasses like brome and ragweed in late summer or early fall. Eggs will overwinter and hatch in April or May. Larvae will immediately bore into a host plant and begin feeding. Larvae will attack corn from stage VE to V12.
Irregular leaf feeding, larvae will tunnel into the stalk causing “dead heart’’, wilting, and plant death.
Larvae will move from alternative weedy hosts to corn. Check along field edges, waterways, or grass terraces for damaged plants.