This moth is a serious pest of corn, but also feeds on oats, barley, beans, potatoes and other agricultural crops as well as many ornamental plants. It is known to feed on over 200 varieties of plants. Females deposit up to 600 eggs on the undersides of leaves in small clusters of 15-20 eggs. The larvae feed first on the tassels and leaves and later by burrowing within the stem between the corn stalk and the developing ear. They overwinter as the late stage larva in a cell in the soil and pupate in the spring. In northern regions there is a single generation each year, but 3-4 generations annually in the South.
This is primarily an agricultural pest, but if found causing damage to ornamental plants can be killed with labeled contact insecticides.