Insect resistance management (IRM) can extend the lifetime of management options, but depends on extensive knowledge of the biology of the pest species involved for an optimal plan. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered seed blends refuge for two of the transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn products targeting the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. Larval movement between Bt and isoline plants can be detrimental to resistance management for high dose Bt products because the larger larvae can be more tolerant of the Bt toxins. We assessed movement of western corn rootworm larvae among four spatial arrangements of SmartStax corn (expressing both the Cry34/35Ab1 and Cry3Bb1 proteins) and isoline plants by infesting specific plants with wild type western corn rootworm eggs. Significantly fewer western corn rootworm larvae, on average, were recovered from infested SmartStax plants than infested isoline plants, and the SmartStax plants were significantly less damaged than corresponding isoline plants. However, when two infested isoline plants surrounded a SmartStax plant, a significant number of larvae moved onto the SmartStax plant late in the season. These larvae caused significant damage both years and produced significantly more beetles than any other plant configuration in the study (including isoline plants) in the first year of the study. This plant configuration would occur rarely in a 5% seed blend refuge and may produce beetles of a susceptible genotype because much of their initial larval development was on isoline plants. Results are discussed in terms of their potential effects on resistance management.
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Vol. 105 • No. 4