Indigenous natural enemies of the invading maize pest Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae)

 

Anita Juen, Alexander Rief

 

Diabritica virgifera virgifera LeConte, the western corn rootworm, is a chrysomelid beetle, which was first detected as a pest of maize in 1909 in Colorado. It spread throughout the North American Corn Belt and has become the most destructive maize pest in the US. Yield loss and costs for management amount to about 1.17 billion US Dollar annually. Various insecticides and crop rotation have been used to control corn rootworm, but resistant strains developed against both, insecticides and crop rotation. Diabrotica was first introduced to Europe about 20 years ago. Containment measurements to stop the invasion were only locally successful and meanwhile western corn rootworm is found in 17 European Countries, including Austria. In Europe control still relies on insecticides and crop rotation, but as history has shown several times, it is just a question of time until resistance will develop. Alternative control strategies are needed.

The aim of this project is to identify native invertebrate predators of Diabrotica. This will be achieved by molecular gut content analysis of predators collected from Diabrotica - infested maize fields. The results provide the knowledge needed to develop control strategies which include natural enemies.

 

Funded by Tiroler Wissenschafts Fonds (TWF) and Forschungszentrum für Berglandwirtschaft

 

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