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Corn Rootworms and Bt Corn
August 2011

Dr. Joseph L. Spencer
Insect Behavioralist,
Illinois Natural History Survey
Prairie Research Institute
University of Illinois

Dr. Michael E. Gray
Professor and Extension Specialist in Entomology,
Department of Crop Sciences,
University of Illinois

Part 1: Rootworm Biology in Refuge and Bt Corn
Watch Presentation (17 min 52 sec)

for PC and Android | for Apple devices


Part 2: Bt Adoption by Illinois Producers and
Refuge Management: Seed Mixtures to Become the Norm?

Watch Presentation (26 min 50 sec)

for PC and Android | for Apple devices




This two-part presentation will help consultants, growers, and other practitioners in the Corn Belt understand the role of western corn rootworm (WCR) biology and behavior in insect resistance management. It will also help them to better understand corn growers' practices with respect to their use of Bt hybrids to manage western corn rootworms.

The first presentation begins with a review of WCR biology, the history of corn rootworm pest species and the WCR's adaptation to crop rotation that began in Illinois. The use of Bt-transgenic corn for rootworm management is introduced along with assumptions about WCR behavior in refuge and Bt corn. Data on WCR behavior and mating in several different configurations of refuge and Bt- corn are presented to illustrate how the placement of refuge affects the biology and ecology of mating WCR beetles.

The second presentation offers results of producer surveys taken at the regional Corn and Soybean Classic meetings held throughout the state of Illinois. The surveys suggest that refuge compliance has been declining in recent years. The potential implications of declining refuge compliance will be discussed. In future years, the use of seed mixtures (Bt and non-Bt seed) will likely form the foundation for most Bt resistance management plans in the Corn Belt. By the end of the presentation, the practitioner should have a much better grasp of current Bt usage, refuge compliance levels, an improved understanding of seed mixtures and their use in resistance management plans, and overall improved knowledge of corn rootworm behavior and biology.

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