Known for its destruction of corn crops, the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) will also consume more than 300 garden plants including peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Corn crops are destroyed when the young larvae of the corn borer chew and tunnel through the stalks and ears of the plant. Other vegetable crops are also affected similarly.
Larvae can grow up to ¾ to 1 inch in length and have a reddish or dark brown head with spots along the top of each segment of their body.
An adult borer is a nocturnal moth that is yellowish-brown with dark stripes along its wings.
A mature larva will survive the winter months by burying itself in corn stubble or other parts of the plant. Their pupation stage begins in late spring and lasts between 4 to 8 weeks.
Once adults emerge from the cocoon, they mate and the female lays her eggs in clusters along the underside of the lower part of a host plant's leaf.
In about 3 to 7 days the eggs hatch and tiny caterpillars feed on host plants until they are fully grown in 3 to 4 weeks.
When it's time to enter the pupate stage, they will bury themselves deep into the corn stalks and prepare a cocoon for the pupation process.
Controlling European corn borers and their larvae can be done naturally by plowing under corn stalks during the late fall and early spring where the insects may be hibernating for winter.
Beneficial insects such as the trichogramma wasp, ladybug, and lacewing larva, will feed on and destroy borer eggs.