For highly polyphagous cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., pests such as Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), a substantial portion of the larval population develops on noncotton alternative hosts. These noncotton hosts potentially provide a natural refuge for H. zea, thereby slowing the evolution of resistance to the Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner (Bt)-derived Cry1Ac protein present in Bollgard cotton. Here, we demonstrate how the measured contribution of such alternative hosts can be included in estimating the “effective refuge” present for H. zea and in modeling resistance evolution in this species. A single-gene, two-compartment model was used in which one compartment represented corn, Zea mays L., and cotton that express the Cry1Ac protein or similar proteins, and the other compartment was the effective refuge, made up of a weighted average of non-Bt cotton and noncotton hosts. The effective refuge was estimated for each of six generations of H. zea based upon available data on larval population densities on different hosts and cropping patterns. Model runs were performed for regions centered on three states: Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Three sets of fitness cost assumptions for the putative resistance gene were used: none, low, and moderate, with either recessive or additive inheritance for resistance and fitness costs. For Georgia and North Carolina, resistance was predicted to take >30 yr to evolve except in the absence of fitness costs. For Mississippi, results were sensitive to fitness costs: >30 yr with moderate costs, 7–14 yr with low costs, and 6–10 yr without such costs.
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Vol. 99 • No. 6