Texas Department of Agriculture Website > Regulatory Programs > Plant Quality > Pest and Disease Alerts > European Corn Borer
Skip to content

European Corn Borer
Pest Information

The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), is an invasive lepidopteran pest found throughout most of the corn growing regions of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.  ECB is also known to occur in low populations in the Texas panhandle.  Due to it’s potential to cause severe economic damage, ECB is a TDA quarantined pest.

ECB overwinter as full-grown larvae in crop stubble and plant debris. Pupation occurs in May, and first-generation moths begin to emerge in late spring.  The adult ECB moth is about one inch long, with female moths being light yellowish-brown with dark irregular, wavy bands across the wings, and the male moths being slightly smaller and darker in complexion. The eggs, 15 to 30 in a mass, overlap like fish scales and are normally deposited near the midribs on the undersides of the leaves. Eggs hatch in 3 to 7 days. Larvae move to the whorl to feed before entering the stalk for pupation.

In addition to corn, ECB has many other hosts including hemp, pepper, snap bean, chrysanthemum, dahlia, and several other ornamentals. Stems of seedling trees are also sometimes damaged by larvae.  During the peak US hemp production period of the 1940s, ECB was mentioned as the insect pest most often observed to damage the hemp crop.  

ECB has historically been a pest of great concern to corn growers in the US; however, with the widespread use of Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) corn, the prevalence of this pest has decreased (Hutchinson et al., 2010). Nevertheless, with the legalization of industrial hemp production, Texas hemp growers should be aware of this pest, as hemp is a major host of ECB.  Damage from ECB can result in yield loss and lower quality hemp. 

The Texas Department of Agriculture has modified quarantine regulations to include hemp plants as quarantined articles in the TDA European Corn Borer quarantine.  Hemp plants and cuttings from areas infested with ECB must come under compliance with TDA or the origin state’s department of agriculture to ensure ECB is not being spread in Texas.   


CLICK HERE to view TDA's European Corn Borer Quarantine regulation.

European Corn Borer Certification

TDA has designated this section to publicize the departmentally approved certification options for European Corn Borer. Certification depends on the commodity.  Please review the “TDA ECB Compliance Guide” in the Resources tab for more information.  

Please note, incoming shipments from out-of-state must arrive with a compliance agreement or permit issued by the origin state’s department of agriculture.  Producers in Texas importing quarantined articles shall ensure that they arrive with proper certification to avoid a violation of the TDA European Corn Borer quarantine regulations and prevent the spread of this invasive pest to ECB free areas of Texas.

Texas and out-of-state producers can contact the TDA Plant Quality Program (email: PlantQuality@TexasAgriculture.gov, phone: 512-463-7660) for information on obtaining a compliance agreement or permit to safely move quarantined articles from ECB infested areas to ECB free areas without spreading this pest.  

European Corn Borer Quarantine Map