The European corn borer is an important pest in field vegetable production. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the caterpillars of this small butterfly destroy around 4% of the global corn crop each year.
In Central Europe, the corn borer normally develops only one generation per year. In warm years, however, development proceeds more rapidly, so that the moths of a second generation hatch before the end of the summer. So far, we have not observed a second generation of corn borers in Austria in our monitoring program; however, the likelihood of this occurring as a result of climate change is increasing.
The caterpillars of the corn borer overwinter in plant stalks such as corn stubble or from wild plants such as mugwort. They pupate in the spring as temperatures rise, and the finished corn borers hatch beginning in early June. They lay most of their eggs in July, and after a week the caterpillars hatch and bore into their host plants.
We monitor for corn borers with our corn borer monitoring and send alerts through our Plant Health Alert Service as soon as the caterpillars hatch.