Because of the importance of cannibalism in population regulation of Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in corn, Zea mays L., it is useful to understand the interactions between Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) transgenic corn and cannibalism. To determine the effects of Bt corn on cannibalism in H. zea, pairs of the same or different instars were taken from Bt or non-Bt corn and placed on artificial diet in proximity. Cannibalism occurred in 91% of pairs and was ≈7% greater for pairs of larvae reared from Bt transgenic corn (95%) than from non-Bt corn (88%). Also, first instar by first instar pairs had a lower rate of cannibalism than other pairs. Time until cannibalism was not different for larvae from Bt corn versus non-Bt corn. Pupation rate of cannibals and surviving victims was not different for pairs from Bt corn versus non-Bt corn. Finally, cannibalism increased pupation rate of cannibals from both Bt and non-Bt corn by ≈23 and 12%, respectively, although the increases were not significant. Thus, negative effects of Bt on larvae were compensated by increased cannibalism in comparison with larvae reared on non-Bt corn, which increased larval survival to levels comparable with larvae reared on non-Bt plants.
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Vol. 99 • No. 3