Maize Billbug

Sphenophorus maidis

Maize billbug covered with soil
Maize billbug covered with soil. Photo courtesy of Clemson University. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Billbugs are found throughout the United States and Canada. They overwinter as adults and hence are an early season pest of corn and other crops. Their larval stage is also a pest and may cause damage to older plants.
Up to 1/2" in length, billbugs are named for their long snout. The maize billbug is black in color, but is often covered in soil in the field masking its appearance.
Billbugs use their long snout to make a hole in the plant and feed on the tender tissues inside. This can lead to stunting or death of small plants. The larval stage also feeds on roots and inside stems and can greatly weaken crops.
Adult billbugs can be controlled with insecticides, although they often do not present enough of a problem to justify treatment. There are no available methods for controlling the larvae, which are protected in the soil or inside the stem of the plant. Always read and follow all label instructions.