Behaviour and ecology of the western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte)

Joseph L. Spencer, Bruce E. Hibbard, Joachim Moeser, David W. Onstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1 The western corn rootworm (WCR) is a historic pest with a legacy of resistance and behavioural plasticity. Its behaviour and nutritional ecology are important to rootworm management. The success of the most effective and environmentally benign rootworm management method, annual crop rotation, was based on an understanding of rootworm behaviour and host-plant relationships. Enthusiastic adoption of crop rotation, provided excellent rootworm management, but also selected for behavioural resistance to this cultural control. 2 Though well-studied, significant gaps in WCR biology remain. Understanding the topics reviewed here (mating behaviour, nutritional ecology, larval and adult movement, oviposition, alternate host use, and chemical ecology) is a starting point for adapting integrated pest management and insect resistance management (IRM) to an expanding WCR threat. A presentation of significant questions and areas in need of further study follow each topic. 3 The expansion of WCR populations into Europe exposes this pest to new environmental and regulatory conditions that may influence its behaviour and ecology. Reviewing the state of current knowledge provides a starting point of reference for researchers and pest management decision-makers in North America and Europe. 4 The trend toward increasing adoption of transgenic maize will place an increasing premium on understanding WCR behaviour. IRM plans designed to promote sustainable deployment of transgenic hybrids are grounded on assumptions about WCR movement, mating and ovipositional behaviour. Preserving the utility of new and old management options will continue to depend on a thorough understanding of WCR biology, even as the ecological circumstances and geography of WCR problems become more complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-27
Number of pages19
JournalAgricultural and Forest Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Chrysomelidae
  • Coleoptera
  • Crop rotation resistance
  • Maize
  • Mating
  • Movement
  • Nutritional ecology
  • Ovipostion
  • Semiochemicals
  • Zea mays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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