Updated: July 2, 2023


Popcorn plants, also known as Zea mays everta, are a popular choice among gardeners due to their delicious and versatile kernels. However, like any other plant, popcorn plants can fall victim to various pests, including worms. These pests can cause significant damage to your popcorn plant if left untreated. In this article, we will discuss effective methods to get rid of worms in your popcorn plant and ensure a healthy harvest.

Identifying the Problem

Before you can effectively treat the worm infestation in your popcorn plant, it is crucial to correctly identify the type of worm causing the damage. There are several common worms that can affect popcorn plants, such as armyworms, cutworms, and corn earworms. Each type of worm may require a different approach for control.


Armyworms are caterpillars that feed on the leaves of the popcorn plant. They are typically green or brown in color and have a distinctive upside-down “Y” pattern on their head. Armyworms can quickly defoliate your popcorn plant if left unchecked.


Cutworms are nocturnal pests that cut through the stems of young popcorn plants near ground level. They are usually gray or brown in color and curl up when disturbed. Cutworms can severely damage or even kill your popcorn plants.

Corn Earworms

Corn earworms primarily target the ears of the popcorn plant. They are smooth-skinned caterpillars that vary in color from green to pink. Corn earworms can cause significant damage by feeding on the kernels, leading to reduced yield and quality.

Organic Methods for Worm Control

Once you have identified the type of worm affecting your popcorn plants, you can choose an appropriate method for control. Many gardeners opt for organic methods as they are safe for the environment and do not harm beneficial insects. Here are some effective organic methods to get rid of worms in your popcorn plant:


If the worm infestation is relatively small, you can manually remove the worms from your popcorn plants. Wear gloves and carefully inspect each plant, removing any worms you find. Dispose of the worms away from your garden to prevent re-infestation.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural pesticide derived from the neem tree. It is an effective control method for a wide range of pests, including worms. Dilute neem oil according to the instructions on the bottle and spray it onto your popcorn plants, paying particular attention to the affected areas. Repeat every 7-10 days until the infestation is under control.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly referred to as Bt, is a biological insecticide that specifically targets caterpillars. It contains a bacteria strain that produces toxins harmful to worms but safe for humans and other animals. Mix Bt according to the instructions and spray it onto your popcorn plants. Reapply after rainfall or irrigation.

Chemical Methods for Worm Control

While organic methods are preferred by many gardeners, chemical pesticides can be used as a last resort if the worm infestation is severe or resistant. It is essential to follow the instructions on the pesticide label and take necessary precautions when using chemicals in your garden. Here are a few chemical methods for worm control:


There are various insecticides available in the market that effectively control worms in popcorn plants. Look for products specifically labeled for caterpillar or worm control. Follow the instructions on the label carefully and apply the insecticide as directed.

Systemic Insecticides

Systemic insecticides are absorbed by the plant and transported throughout its tissues, making them effective against worms that feed on different plant parts. These insecticides come in granular or liquid form and should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prevention and Maintenance

Preventing worm infestations in your popcorn plants is just as important as treating existing infestations. Here are some preventive measures and maintenance practices to keep your popcorn plants healthy and free from worms:

  • Crop Rotation: Rotate your popcorn plants with other crops to disrupt the life cycle of worms and prevent re-infestation.

  • Sanitation: Regularly remove weeds, debris, and fallen leaves from your garden, as they can provide shelter for worms and other pests.

  • Plant Vigorous Varieties: Choose popcorn plant varieties that are known for their resistance to worms and other pests.

  • Monitor Regularly: Keep a close eye on your popcorn plants for any signs of worm infestation. Early detection can prevent the infestation from spreading.

  • Encourage Beneficial Insects: Attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, to your garden. They feed on pests like worms and help keep their populations in check.


Worms can pose a significant threat to the health and productivity of your popcorn plants. By correctly identifying the type of worm infesting your plants and employing appropriate control methods, you can effectively get rid of them. Remember to prioritize organic methods whenever possible, but resort to chemical options if necessary. With proper prevention and maintenance practices, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious popcorn from your garden.