Effects of Bacillus thuringiensis Transgenic Corn on Corn Earworm and Fall Armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Densities

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We examined 17 pairs of near-isogenic hybrids of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (176, Mon810, and Bt11) and non-Bt corn, Zea mays L., to examine the effects of Bt on larval densities of Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) and Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) during 2 yr. During ear formation, instar densities of H. zea and S. frugiperda were recorded for each hybrid. We found that H. zea first, second, and fifth instar densities were each affected by Mon810 and Bt11 Bt corn but not by 176 corn. Surprisingly, first and second instars were found in higher numbers on ears of Mon810 and Bt11 corn than on non-Bt corn. Densities of third and fourth instars were equal on Bt and non-Bt hybrids, whereas densities of fifth instars were lower on Bt plants. S. frugiperda larval densities were only affected during 1 yr when second, and fourth to sixth instars were lower on ears of Mon810 and Bt11 hybrids compared with their non-Bt counterparts. Two likely explanations for early instar H. zea densities being higher on Bt corn than non-Bt corn are that 1) Bt toxins delay development, creating a greater abundance of early instars that eventually die, and 2) reduced survival of H. zea to later instars on Bt corn decreased the normal asymmetric cannibalism or H. zeaS. frugiperda intraguild predation of late instars on early instars. Either explanation could explain why differences between Bt and non-Bt plants were greater for H. zea than S. frugiperda, because H. zea is more strongly affected by Bt toxins and more cannibalistic.

Keywords: Cry1Ab; community ecology; genetically modified; maize; plant resistance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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