Abstract Entomopathogenic ascomycete fungi are ubiquitous in soil and on phylloplanes, and are important natural enemies of many soil-borne arthropods including larval western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, which is a major pest of corn. We measured the prevalence of Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae sensu lato in ten cornfields in Iowa, USA by baiting with larval insects. B. bassiana and M. anisopliae s.l. were present in 60%±6.3% and 55%±6.4% of soil samples, respectively. Subsequent laboratory bioassays found that some M. anisopliae s.l. strains collected from cornfields killed a greater proportion of D.v. virgifera larvae than a standard commercial strain.