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The food utilization of the Western Corn Rootworm (WCR)

How to measure the food utilization of subterranean insects: a case study with the Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)

Studies of food conversion efficiency are used to determine the suitability of a particular food item for the development, growth or maintenance of animals. When carried out on insects these studies on food conversion efficiency were up to now always limited to aboveground mostly leaf or shoot feeding insects. Insects which feed belowground or on the roots were neglected on account of methodological difficulties in handling the insects and because direct observations were not possible.

The following description provides information on an experimental design, which allows to measure feeding and to subsequently calculate food conversion efficiency for belowground feeding insect larvae of the maize pest Western Corn Rootworm (WCR) (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera). This method was developed in order to acquire knowledge on the impact of different maize varieties and possible alternative host plants on the larval development. Because this species invaded Europe in the beginning of the 1990/s, it is of vital interest to determine how suitable European maize varieties and weeds are as food sources, thus facilitating the spread and the build-up of economically relevant populations.

Reported by

Institute for Plant Pathology / University Gottingen
Grisebachstrasse 6
37077 Gottingen
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