It’s simple to assume maggots eat anything, especially if you’ve seen them dining on garbage or road kill. These offspring of various kinds of flies, mosquitoes and gnats are pickier than we assume and their dining tastes rely on species. The seedcorn maggot (Delia platura), as an example, lives up to its name by eating its way through freshly planted corn (Zea mays) seeds. You might never know they are beneath the soil till you wonder why your corn seeds have not sprouted.
Seedcorn Maggot Basics
Seedcorn maggots are very similar to other maggots in that they’re wormlike, legless animals. They are generally pale yellow to almost white and measure 1/4 inch long. Adults resemble houseflies but are smaller and much more delicate-looking.
Seedcorn Maggot Life Cycle
Seedcorn maggots overwinter in the ground, protected by a tough outer shell which formed from its last larval skin — known as a puparium. When adult, the grayish brown fly emerges from the ground in spring, mates and lays eggs on the ground. The eggs hatch several days afterwards along with the maggots burrow into the corn seeds to feed. They last gorging on the seeds for two to three weeks. At that time , they enter to the pupal stage and cease to burrow into the corn seed.
Seedcorn Maggot Damage
Corn seeds which fall victim to seedcorn maggot may never germinate and, if they do, then they create weak incisions which typically don’t last long. Damage can be prevalent, throughout an whole planting. The only remedy as soon as your corn planting is infested is to till the ground and begin over.
Seedcorn Maggot Control
Because nothing will control seedcorn maggots, you’ll need to attempt to prevent them. Seedcorn maggots are somewhat more prevalent in moist soil that’s full of organic matter. If you develop a cover crop during the off season, till it under as early as possible and avoid over-fertilization after planting. The adults are drawn to cool soil, so avoid planting corn seed also early in the summer season.