Evaluation of soil-applied insecticides with Bt maize for managing corn rootworm larval injury

R. E. Estes, N. A. Tinsley, M. E. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is considered one of the most significant insect pests of maize in North America. Larvae of other secondary subterranean pests such as grape colaspis, Colaspis brunnea (F.), and Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman, can also injure maize seedlings and cause yield loss. In the past decade, maize hybrids containing Bt proteins have been used to manage the western corn rootworm; additionally, seeds are commonly treated with a neonicotinoid and fungicide combination to control secondary pests. Recently, soil-applied insecticides have been used in conjunction with rootworm Bt hybrids (and seed-applied insecticides) in areas with perceived risk for increased rootworm larval or secondary pest damage. We conducted a series of trials from 2009 to 2011 that examined multiple rootworm Bt hybrids and their near-isolines, along with two soil-applied insecticides, to determine whether the Bt plus insecticide combination resulted in an increased level of efficacy or yield. We also sampled for Japanese beetle and grape colaspis larvae to determine their potential for reducing yield. Densities of secondary pests in our trials were low and likely had no effect on maize yield. The addition of a soil-applied insecticide to rootworm Bt hybrids improved efficacy only once across 17 location-years, when overall corn rootworm injury was highest; an improvement in yield was never observed. Our results suggest that the use of a soil-applied insecticide with a rootworm Bt hybrid should only be considered in scenarios with potentially significant rootworm larval populations. However, potential negative consequences related to trait durability when soil insecticides are used with rootworm Bt maize should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Entomology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner
  • Colaspis brunnea (F.)
  • Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte
  • Popillia japonica Newman
  • Zea mays L

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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