European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis Hübner (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), has been present in the United States for over 100 yr and documented on >200 plant species, including economically valuable crops. The reported preferred host of O. nubilalis is corn, Zea mays L. (Cyperales: Poaceae), although it is considered to be a generalist agricultural pest. Life cycles of the two pheromone races, E and Z, align with the seasonality of different agricultural plants. Since the introduction of Bt corn in 1996, overall O. nubilalis presence has declined and suggests that alternative crop plants might not be suitable hosts. We investigated plant vegetation preference of third-instar Z-race O. nubilalis for leaf disks of corn and a variety of other crops using 48 h no-choice and choice tests. Z-race larvae gained more mass on V6 non-Bt field corn leaf disks in comparison to other plant species options. Additionally, a preference for non-Bt field corn leaf disks was observed in most comparisons. Higher consumption of cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. (Cucurbitales: Cucurbitaceae), leaf disks as compared to non-Bt field corn leaf disks suggested an ability to feed on excised leaf tissues of a plant species that does not induce defenses to herbivory.
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Vol. 113 • No. 3