Genetically modified cotton that produces a crystalline protein from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Berliner) (Bt) has been widely deployed to manage lepidopteran insect pests in cotton growing areas worldwide. However, susceptibility of different insect species to Bt protein varies, which may affect lepidopteran pest populations in the field. Studies on effects of two transgenic cotton lines (BG1560 and GK19) carrying a Cry1A gene on common cutworm Spodoptera litura F. (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), were conducted during 2002–2005 in the cotton planting region of the Yangtze River valley of China. Results showed that common cutworm larvae had low susceptibility to Bt cotton. There was no significant difference in larval population densities in conventional and Bt cotton fields. However, the larval populations of the insect on conventional plants treated with chemical insecticides for control of target pest of Bt cotton were significantly lower than that in Bt cotton fields. These results indicated that the common cutworm was the potential to become a major and alarming pest in Bt cotton fields, and therefore efforts to develop an effective alternative management strategy are needed.
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