Corn Earworms

Fresh sweet corn is a top seller at summertime farmer’s market and boy is it delicious! However, one may not know that organic sweet corn, because it is not treated with harsh chemical insectisides, may contain corn earworms! I had no idea there was even such a thing until the gentleman at the farm stand simply pulled the husk away to show me that his corn had “a few earworms, its was no big deal, you just pull them off.” I on the other hand, being a city girl, was totally grossed out! The worms were small, dead and shriveled up so I remained calm, purchsed the sweet corn, and headed home to do some research.

Corn earworms feed on the kernals near the tip of the ear of corn without causing visible damage to the husk or leaves, so you won’t even see them until you remove the husk. Therefore, this may be an unplesant surprise to consumers! As the harvesting season grows late into the summer (August and into September), earworms become more prevalent; corn harvested earlier in the summer is usually free of earworms. The earworm is the catapillar larval state of a common moth. The worms are brownish-black in color and feed on the fresh silks of the corn.

So what’s a girl to do with earworms on her corn? Lucky for me I didn’t encounter any earworms when I got home, only evidence that they had been there. Corn with minimal earworm damage can still be eaten. Simply cut off the tip that was damaged by the earworms and the rest of the ear of corn is perfectly fine for consumption. I for one will be boiling my corn on the cob to make sure all traces of earworms is totally destroyed. The farm-fresh taste of summer sweet corn is too good to pass up!

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