The population dynamics of Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in the Murrumbidgee Valley, Australia, has been characterized using five highly variable microsatellite loci. In the 2001–2002 growing season, there were very high levels of migration into the Murrumbidgee Valley with no detectable genetic structuring, consistent with previous analyses on a national scale. By contrast, there was significant genetic structuring over the 2002–2003 growing season, with three distinct genetic types detected. The first type corresponded to the first two generations and was derived from local individuals emerging from diapause and their progeny. The second genetic type corresponded to generation 3 and resulted from substantial immigration into the region. There was another genetic shift in generation 4, which accounts for the third genetic type of the season. This genetic shift occurred despite low levels of immigration. During the third generation of the 2002–2003 growing season, different population dynamics was characterized for H. armigera on maize, Zea mays L., and cotton Gossipium hirsutum L. Populations on cotton tended to cycle independently with very little immigration from outside the region or from maize within the region. Maize acted as a major sink for immigrants from cotton and from outside the region. If resistance were to develop on cotton under these circumstances, susceptible individuals from maize or from other regions would not dilute this resistance. In addition, resistance is likely to be transferred to maize and be perpetuated until diapause, from where it may reemerge next season. If low levels of immigration were to occur on transgenic cotton, this may undermine the effectiveness of refugia, especially noncotton refugia.
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Vol. 99 • No. 1