Adaptation and invasiveness of western corn rootworm: Intensifying research on a worsening pest

Michael Gray, Thomas W. Sappington, Nicholas J. Miller, Joachim Moeser, Martin O. Bohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Le Conte, is an established insect pest of maize (Zea mays L.) in North America. The rotation of maize with another crop, principally soybeans, Glycine max (L.), was the primary management strategy utilized by North American producers and remained highly effective until the mid-1990s. In 1995, widespread and severe root injury occurred in east-central Illinois and northern Indiana maize fields that had been annually rotated with soybeans on a regular basis for several decades. The failure of this cultural tactic from a pest management perspective was attributed to a behavioral adaptation by a variant western corn rootworm that had lost fidelity to maize for egg laying. In 1992, an infestation of western corn rootworm was found within a small maize field near the Belgrade Airport. By 2007, the presence of this insect pest had been confirmed in 20 European countries. More recent molecular studies have confirmed that at least three separate invasions (until 2004) of western corn rootworms have occurred in Europe, increasing the risk that rotation-resistant western corn rootworms will be introduced into a new continent. Although biological control and use of conventional resistant maize hybrids have not achieved widespread success in the management of western corn root-worms in North America, these tactics are being evaluated in Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-321
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Diabrotica virgifera virgifera
  • Maize rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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