Feeding behavior of third-instar bollworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (F.), was observed in pure and mixed stands of nontransgenic and transgenic cotton (BTK), Gossypium hirsutum L., expressing an insecticidal protein CryIA(c) from a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner subsp. kurstaki. Five plant stands composed of BTK and non-BTK plants were evaluated; two pure stands and three mixed stands. Percentage ratios of BTK to non-BTK plants in the stands were 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75 and 0:100, respectively. In all stands with BTK plants, fewer bollworm and tobacco budworm larvae were found on BTK plants than non-BTK plants 24 h after infestation with third instars. At 48 h, significantly fewer tobacco budworm larvae, but not fewer bollworm larvae, were found on BTK plants. However, the number of larvae of either insect did not increase on non-BTK plants compared with the initial infestation density of three larvae per plant. The number of obacco budworm injured flower buds, and capsules was lower in all plant stands containing BTK plants compared with the pure stand of non-BTK at 48 h after infestation. Higher numbers of larvae on non-BTK plants were possibly the result of larval intoxication, reduced feeding, and increased plant abandonment and death on BTK plants rather than a classical feeding preference. Unexpectedly, the number of flower buds and capsules injured by bollworm and tobacco budworm when averaged per plant for all plants in a stand, differed little among the 75:25, 50:50 and 25:75 plant mixtures. These data suggest that larvae of both species frequently moved among plants, feeding indiscriminately on BTK and non-BTK plants.
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