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Southern Corn Rootworm

Southern Corn Rootworm Adult Photo: Clemson University CE Series 40-1541In South Carolina, this pest might be more accurately referred to as a corn budworm, for it is at this point where the damage is done. The worm eats directly into the bud of the plant, just above the root level, causing the bud leaves to wilt and die.

The adult of the southern corn rootworm is the familiar spotted cucumber beetle. It feeds on nearly any growing crop or weed during the early spring. Females lay their eggs in the soil near where they have fed. Larvae feed for about two weeks, then pupate in the soil.

Southern Corn Rootworm Larva Photo: Clemson University CE Series 39-1195Since adults show little interest in clean, bare land, injury can best be avoided by turning under cover crops at least 30 days before planting corn. Nearby fields should be kept free of weeds for 30 to 60 days prior to planting corn. While late planting might reduce damage due to this pest, it would tend to increase damage by other, more important pests.

There are several insecticides available for control of the southern corn rootworm. However, since the list of labeled products is constantly changing, and since available products varies from state to state, there will 

be no mention of specific products. Labeled products should be applied in a band, centered over the row at planting, and incorporated lightly. Granular formulations are preferred. Chemical control of this insect is practical only where there is a history of economic losses due to its damage. With all insecticides, read and follow all label instructions carefully.


Prepared by Donald G. Manley, Extension Entomologist/Professor, Department of Entomology, Soils, and Plant Sciences, Clemson University.


This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. Brand names of pesticides are given as a convenience and are neither an endorsement nor guarantee of the product nor a suggestion that similar products are not effective. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer. Clemson University Cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture and South Carolina Counties. Issued in Furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914.