Understanding of the mating and dispersal behavior of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (LeConte), is essential to predicting potential resistance to Bt corn technologies recently deployed to combat this pest. To quantify movement of male beetles, field studies were conducted during 2006 and 2007 in commercial Bt cornfields that included the Environmental Protection Agency-mandated 20% refuge acreage. Wing traps containing a single virgin female beetle were placed along transects throughout these fields. Male beetles were collected from the sticky bottoms of traps to compare the mean number of beetles captured at the different transect distances. Gut contents of each captured male were assayed with protein test strips to determine if the Bt protein (Cry3Bb1) was present. This provided an estimate of the distances traveled by males to reach virgin females. These data indicated that the mean number of males captured ≈200 m from refuge corn was not significantly different than the mean number of males captured close to the refuge (<22 m). Complementary field observations were conducted to determine how far newly emerged female beetles moved before mating and the time of day mating occurs. Results indicated that females do not move far from the site of emergence before mating and do not mate within the first 4 h of adult life. The implications of these data for movement and mating patterns of adult rootworms in Bt/refuge environments are discussed.
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