corn field at sunset

Proactive management of corn insects

August 03, 2023 4:00 p.m.

By Bayer Crop Science

Above- and below-ground corn insects can cause severe economic damage every season, robbing bushels and cutting into farmers’ bottom line. Effective protection against this threat requires an integrated pest management approach as well as help from Mother Nature.

European corn borer, fall armyworm and corn earworm are among the most damaging above-ground insects which feed on leaf tissue and corn ears. Corn rootworm, known as the “billion-dollar bug,” feeds on the plant’s root structure, inhibiting the plant’s ability to absorb moisture and nutrients while also causing standability issues.

Management practices can help mitigate the risk of these pests and protect farmers’ return on investment potential. Included are:

Seed treatments — Using the correct insecticide seed treatment can help provide effective and economical protection. Seed treatments protect corn seed and young corn plants from insects as well as disease, helping to give the crop a healthy start for the growing season. All DEKALB® Brand products next season will include, at no additional cost, Acceleron® ELITE with Enhanced Disease Control to help improve early-to-midseason disease protection. The brand’s VT4PRO Technology* and SmartStax® PRO with RNAi Technology products will come with new nematicide Acceleron N-314 Seed Treatment, and VT4PRO products will contain the Poncho® 1250 seed treatment.

Insecticides — A soil-applied insecticide can be used at planting to help control certain below-ground insects. When above-ground insect counts exceed economic thresholds, timely application of foliar insecticides can be made.    

Scouting — Insect scouting and identification after corn emerges can help determine what pests are present in the field and if they are at a threshold level that threatens yields. Scan the entire field for possible insect damage while walking from one site to the next. The use of sticky traps during mid-to-late summer can help indicate the risk of corn rootworm larval damage for the following season. The Watch is a Bayer-led program that provides free sticky traps to customers during corm rootworm season.

Keep in mind that different corn pests appear at different times throughout the growing season. Insect Forecast is a Bayer tool that enables growers to sign up for pest alerts in the growing season based on their area. 

Crop rotation — A corn-soybean rotation is an important practice for breaking the corn rootworm cycle, particularly in areas of heavy infestation. Planting continuous corn can increase rootworm pressure over time. If crop rotation is not an option, a soil-applied insecticide and/or traited product is recommended in high-pressure areas. Keep in mind there are areas of the Midwest that may still have rootworm pressure even where fields are rotated.

Weather impact — While management practices can go a long way to protect against corn insects, one factor farmers can’t control is weather. Surges in corn rootworm populations in recent seasons in some areas are attributed to dry springs, since timely rain can drown out rootworm larvae after hatching.

Insect Protection Traits

Since its introduction in the late-1990s, Bt trait technology has provided farmers with an effective tool for controlling corn insects through in-plant protection. New, advanced biotech traits are now strengthening the line of defense.

Bayer Crop Science will introduce its new VT4PRO with RNAi Technology products in 2024 to provide farmers with protection against above-ground pests, including European corn borer, southwestern corn borer, fall armyworm, black cutworm, western bean cutworm and corn earworm. This new trait package will also help farmers with emerging corn rootworm pressure protect their crop. It provides three built-in modes of action through Trecepta® Technology, an elite above-ground pest package for corn, with two below-ground modes of action, with one being RNAi Technology — the latest defense to help manage corn rootworm.

Developed by Bayer, RNAi Technology provides a specific mode of action that works differently than a soil-applied insecticide or Bt traits to help increase a corn plant’s ability to defend itself against corn rootworm.

The DEKALB brand will offer six VT4PRO products for 2024, combining insect protection with the brand’s exclusive genetics that offer consistent performance with high yield potential. For more information visit

* VT4PRO with RNAi Technology corn products are expected to be commercially available for the 2024 growing season.


Bayer is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Bayer products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Bayer’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. Commercialized products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship.

VT4PRO™ with RNAi Technology corn products are expected to be commercially available for the 2024 growing season.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. FOR CORN, EACH ACCELERON® SEED APPLIED SOLUTIONS OFFERING is a combination of separate individually registered products containing the active ingredients: BASIC plus Poncho®/VOTiVO® Offering for corn: metalaxyl, ethaboxam, prothioconazole, fluoxastrobin, clothianidin, Bacillus firmus I-1582. ELITE plus Poncho®/VOTiVO® Offering for corn: metalaxyl, ethaboxam, clothianidin, and Bacillus firmus I-1582; prothioconazole and fluoxastrobin at rates that suppress additional diseases. BASIC Offering for corn: metalaxyl, prothioconazole, fluoxastrobin, ethaboxam, and clothianidin. ELITE Offering for corn: metalaxyl, ethaboxam, and clothianidin; and prothioconazole and fluoxastrobin at rates that suppress additional diseases. BioRise® Corn Offering is the on-seed application of BioRise® 360 ST. BioRise® Corn Offering is included seamlessly across offerings on all class of 2017 and newer products.

The distribution, sale, or use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. Not all products are approved in all states.

B.t. products may not yet be registered in all states. Check with your seed brand representative for the registration status in your state.

IMPORTANT IRM INFORMATION: Certain products are sold as RIB Complete® corn blend products, and do not require the planting of a structured refuge except in the Cotton-Growing Area where corn earworm is a significant pest. Products sold without refuge in the bag (non-RIB Complete) require the planting of a structured refuge. See the IRM/Grower Guide for additional information. Always read and follow IRM requirements.

Roundup Ready® 2 Technology
 contains genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Insect control technology provided by Vip3A is utilized under license from Syngenta Crop Protection AG. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Agrisure Viptera® is a registered trademark of a Syngenta group company. LibertyLink logo® , LibertyLink®, Poncho® and Votivo® are trademarks of BASF Corporation. Respect the Refuge and Corn Design® and Respect the Refuge® are registered trademarks of National Corn Growers Association. Acceleron®, BioRise®, DEKALB®, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready®, SmartStax®, Trecepta® and VT4PRO™ are trademarks of Bayer Group. ©2023 Bayer Group. All Rights Reserved.