Several restriction sites in the cytochrome oxidase I gene of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), were identified by sequence analysis as potentially being specific to one of the two host strains. Strain specificity was demonstrated for populations in Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina, with an AciI and SacI site specific to the rice (Oryza spp.)-strain and a BsmI and HinfI site joining an already characterized MspI site as diagnostic of the corn (Zea mays L.)-strain. All four of these sites can be detected by digestion of a single 568-bp polymerase chain reaction-amplified fragment, but the use of two enzymes in separate digests was found to provide accurate and rapid determination of strain identity. The effectiveness of this method was demonstrated by the analysis of almost 200 adult and larval specimens from the Mississippi delta region. The results indicated that the corn-strain is likely to be the primary strain infesting cotton (Gossypium spp.) and that an unexpected outbreak of fall armyworm on the ornamental tree Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud. was due almost entirely to the rice-strain.
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Vol. 99 • No. 3