How to Control Sweet Corn Pests


Among the pest that infect or destroy sweet corn are Japanese beetles, cutworms, aphids, corn earworm and European corn borer caterpillars. If these pests live on or around the sweet corn for too long, they can wipe out an entire crop in one growing season. Managing pests of sweet corn is done organically or chemically. Controlling sweet corn pests organically will take a little more time, but will be more beneficial since you will not be spraying or saturating the sweet corn with chemicals.

Things You'll Need

  • Bird houses and perches
  • 1-gallon paint can
  • Large funnel
  • Black light bulb
  • Marigold plants
  • Ladybugs
  • Praying mantises
  • Mineral oil
  • 3 spray bottles
  • Neem oil
  • Liquid garlic concentrate
  • Pump sprayer
  • Incorporate birdhouses and perches around the sweet corn crop to encourage birds to prey on the pests. Birds are natural predators, eating the insect pests affecting sweet corn.

  • Make and set one or two light traps around the sweet corn crop, approximately 5 to 10 feet from the sweet corn. Obtain an empty, 1-gallon paint can. Insert a large funnel into the can, with the small hole facing into the can. Suspend a single, lit ultraviolet light bulb 6 inches above the top of the can. The pests are attracted to the black light, then fall into the funnel and are unable to get out of the can.

  • Plant marigolds throughout your sweet corn crop. Dig holes that are two times wider and deeper than the marigold's root ball, and place the plant into the hole. Cover the roots with soil, and water regularly along with the sweet corn. The strong fragrance of marigold plants is unattractive to many sweet corn pests, including the corn earworm.

  • Set ladybugs and praying mantises loose in the sweet corn garden. These small beneficial insects eat the larvae and eggs of many sweet corn pests per day.

  • Fill a spray bottle with mineral oil and spray the top of the sweet corn cobs, where the silks grow, to create a barrier for pests, such as corn earworms, that larvae are unable to penetrate.

  • Pour neem oil into a spray bottle, and spray the entire crop of sweet corn to kill any adult corn worms.

  • Mix 1 cup of liquid garlic concentrate with 10 cups of water. Pour the garlic solution into a pump sprayer, and spray the entire sweet corn plant with the garlic solution. Saturate all parts of the sweet corn plant with the garlic solution. The strong garlic makes the sweet corn stalks, leaves and cobs unappetizing to aphids.

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  • Photo Credit Erik Rank/Photodisc/Getty Images
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