Picnic beetles in corn ears
click image to zoomAssortment of sap and mold beetles that could be found in the ear of damaged kernels. It is obvious folks are out looking at corn ears to determine the damage done by the drought. Some have found “picnic beetles” or other small brownish beetles feeding on kernels in tips of ears.
These are also often called “beer bugs.” The family of insects, Nitidulidae, has a range of size and colored beetles that are attracted to fermenting organic matter (alcohol!) and this is the reason they turn up in your beer.
Their presence is in response to previous damage to those upper kernels, which includes insect (e.g., western bean cutworm) and/or bird feeding. In addition, hybrids with short ear husks seem to be more prone to exposing kernels, making easy access for rootworm and Japanese beetles to compromise ear tip kernels while feeding on silks. Please don’t waste time and effort considering treating fields for these opportunistic insects, as what they eat wouldn’t make it through the harvest process.