In the last 10 years, growers have seen a lot of new technology in corn production and insect control is no exception.

“The seed tag on a bag of corn is getting pretty complicated,” says Dave Buntin, University of Georgia Extension entomologist. “There are a lot of new traits, herbicide and insect-tolerant traits, and it’s getting even more complicated as new products come on line. Five to eight different genes have increased the price of a bag of seed over conventional corn by up to $70 to $75 per bag.”

All corn now comes treated with some sort of seed treatment, he says, but 10 years ago, these products were not even on the market.

“There are a large number of seedling pests in corn, with no one being dominant. These can occur at any time in fields under different conditions. Most of these are enhanced by reduced-tillage. Poor growing conditions and weedy conditions can enhance cutworms. The exception is the lesser cornstalk borer, and it likes a hot and dry environment in conventional-tillage. Chinch bugs also prefer conditions that are hot and dry,” says Buntin.

This past year, in Georgia, and farther west, in the Delta the last two years, there were many problems with sugar cane beetles, he says. “And it is giving us fits where it has occurred because it’s difficult to control.”

There is no key insect pest of corn in Georgia causing serious damage in most fields every year, says Buntin. But corn is sensitive to plant population. “As little as a 10-percent loss in stand will reduce yield potential. Consequently, insect management in corn focuses more on seedling insect pests causing stand loss than in other crops. Once corn plants are established and past the seedling stage (six-plus leaf stage), the crop is quite tolerant to insect injury,” he says.