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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Stalk Borer

Scientific name: Papaipema nebris

Identification:  Damage is most likely to be seen near field edges.  Larvae tunnel into the stems of host plants, leading to wilting or breakage of the stem.

Young larvae are brownish-purple with three white strips running down the body. A large purplish “saddle” is present on the front half of the body. Older larvae are uniformly gray. They move in a looping manner when disturbed. They are often referred to as “common stalk borer”.

Biology:  The stalk borer attacks over 100 species of plants.  The pest overwinters in the egg stage.

Period of activity: Larvae emerge in May and June.  The larval stage lasts about nine to twelve weeks.

Scouting notes: Damage is most often found near field edges. Inspect the stem of wilted or broken plants for entry holes. Cut open the stem to look for evidence of tunneling or to find the larvae, if it is still present.

Thresholds: This pest rarely causes economic damage. No thresholds are established.

Management notes: Damage is usually confined to field edges near grassy borders or grassy weed patches and is unlikely to warrant treatment.  Insecticides are not effective once larvae have entered the stem.



Images by

James Kalisch, All Rights Reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

Mike Boone, Some Rights Reserved. Licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Stalk Borer Stalk Borer
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