The seasonal occurrence and spatial distribution of the crambine stem borer, Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) were investigated in maize, Zea mays, and sorghum, Sorghum bicolor, fields at the Kenya coast. During the vegetative growth stage, small-sized larvae were typically found behind leaf sheaths and in whorls in maize and sorghum. In reproductive and senescent maize, small-sized larvae were also found feeding in ears. Later immature life stages were located predominantly in stems in sorghum, and in the stems and ears in maize. Density and variance estimates of small, medium-, and large-sized larvae and pupae in maize and sorghum were fitted to Taylor's power law which provided significant regressions in all cases. The between-plant distribution was aggregated in all life stages. In maize, the distribution remained aggregated through the larval and pupal life stages, but in sorghum the distribution became progressively less aggregated as insects aged. The relationship of C. partellus density to the proportion of plants infested also suggested aggregation. Optimal sample sizes were determined for both binomial and enumerative sampling plans at two levels of precision, and a discussion is included on the relationship of optimal sample sizes to economic injury levels. Additionally, a presence/absence sequential sampling plan is proposed.