ECB a threat to the crops of those who don’t use Bt corn

By: Donovan W. Mann –

Ames, IA – Professionals warning crop growers to be on the lookout for a common pest if they don’t use Bt corn seed.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach warns Iowa growers to be on the lookout for European corn borer. A common insect pest, farms that don’t use Bt seed that is resistant are especially at risk. Extension Entomologists Ashley Dean and Erin Hodgson write about this issue in their recent release to farmers to be assured they protect their crops.

The European corn borer is commonly referred to as the ECB. The pest is an invasive inset that feeds on almost the entire corn plant according to Dean and Hodgson. The only things ECB won’t eat are the roots but their impact can significantly reduce yield cause by poor ear development, broken stalks and dropped ears. The entomologists stress that it is essential for crop growers who opt out of Bt corn to scout for European corn borer.

When scouting for ECB Dean and Hodgson say there are two generations in Iowa. Both generations require unique scouting requirements to ensure effective management. The first generation involves scouting for larvae. The second generation involves scouting for egg masses.

In 1996 Bt seed became available to growers to help avoid European corn borers. In 2019 it was found that about 15% of Iowa corn growers opted out of the Bt seed. More information and resources on European corn borer scouting can be found through the ISU Extension and Outreach Office.